Are people accused of white-collar crime mostly guilty?

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Anonymous User
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Are people accused of white-collar crime mostly guilty?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:35 pm

I have an offer from a firm that is particularly strong (and primarily does) government enforcement/white collar crime defense.

At first glance, this type of practice does not seem very rewarding to me, since it appears you are defending sleazy businessmen. Am I wrong? I want to be proven wrong, because I want to be excited about this firm. Any insight would be appreciated.

Anonymous User
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Re: Are people accused of white-collar crime mostly guilty?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:42 pm

There are a lot of different types of government enforcement/white collar cases, and it's impossible to generalize. Also, my understanding is that a lot of the work lawyers do relates to government or internal investigations prior to the filing of charges/suit, so that's a stage where thing may be unclear.

Also, if you think they're all guilty, why not work there for a while and then go over and become an AUSA?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Are people accused of white-collar crime mostly guilty?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:44 pm

Well, for the adversary system to work, all criminal defendants deserve a defense, even sleazy businessmen.

LeninLunchbox
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Re: Are people accused of white-collar crime mostly guilty?

Postby LeninLunchbox » Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:50 pm

As with all crime, yes, the majority of defendants are guilty. But for what it's worth there's a lot more to being guilty of a white collar crime than just being a "sleazy businessman." Businessmen, even small businessmen, are often prosecuted for little more than not filling out their paperwork correctly for one a hundred state or federal regulatory agencies. Corporations large and small who do business in countries where everything runs on bribery and corruption often get caught up in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violation regardless of the precautions they take avoid taking part in bribery. There are increasingly employment laws that can lead to criminal charges for managers and executive whether they act or do not act. Sometimes who is the "sleazy" board member is not clear and there is a genuine dispute in which the government hasn't necessarily taken the right side. I highly recommend the book "Trapped: When Acting Ethically Is Against the Law" by John Hasnas, one of my profs last year. It may make you see the issue differently and value the important contribution white collar defense makes to the functioning of our economy AND our regulatory enforcement efforts.

...And of course there are plain old embezzling, thieving, sleazy business. Hey, everyone needs a lawyer.

Stinson
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Re: Are people accused of white-collar crime mostly guilty?

Postby Stinson » Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:11 pm

I can't really speak to most. While working during my 2L summer I did have occasion to work on one white collar case, which was very typical of such cases in my state at that time. As one of the other posters said, sometimes the crime involves willfully doing something that is obviously bad. At other times, it can involve not adequately looking into whether or not the thing you want to do is legal before doing it. I think many times especially smaller business people will look around their industry and say, "Hey, they're all doing X," and assume that makes doing X legal, and sometimes they're wrong.

It's also the case that state AG's often have limited resources to go after a lot of potential white collar cases. That means that sometimes certain types of violations go unpunished for a very long time, but then an a new AG will get elected, or an existing one will take a new interest in a certain type of offense and create a task force, and then suddenly conduct that went unmarked before can get you in trouble.

In short, you would wind up working with a spectrum of people, some very good faith types who made mistakes, others who are just clueless, and some total scumbags. In the legal sense, most are likely guilty, because AG's have limited resources and generally don't go after white collar unless they have a pretty good case.

Void
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Re: Are people accused of white-collar crime mostly guilty?

Postby Void » Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:57 pm

It's not up to you to decide whether a client is guilty- that's what juries (and sometimes judges) are for. That said, if it bothers you that most of your clients will be found guilty, maybe you should look into something else.

Also note: working at a big civil firm, you'd still mostly be defending sleazy businessmen.

Myself
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Postby Myself » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:42 pm

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Last edited by Myself on Fri Nov 29, 2013 1:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

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kalvano
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Re: Are people accused of white-collar crime mostly guilty?

Postby kalvano » Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:16 pm

Do you have anyone offers? Because if you don't, then why worry about it.

jkay
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Re: Are people accused of white-collar crime mostly guilty?

Postby jkay » Wed Sep 04, 2013 12:40 am

Void wrote:Also note: working at a big civil firm, you'd still mostly be defending sleazy businessmen.


+1,000,000.

equality7-2521
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Re: Are people accused of white-collar crime mostly guilty?

Postby equality7-2521 » Wed Sep 04, 2013 12:42 am

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Last edited by equality7-2521 on Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Are people accused of white-collar crime mostly guilty?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:20 am

It depends.

anon168
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Re: Are people accused of white-collar crime mostly guilty?

Postby anon168 » Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:42 am

Anonymous User wrote:I have an offer from a firm that is particularly strong (and primarily does) government enforcement/white collar crime defense.

At first glance, this type of practice does not seem very rewarding to me, since it appears you are defending sleazy businessmen. Am I wrong? I want to be proven wrong, because I want to be excited about this firm. Any insight would be appreciated.


Mostly guilty?

Who knows, and really who cares.

Your job as a criminal defense lawyer is not to worry about your client's guilt (or lack of guilt), much less determine it.

Your job is simply make the government meet its burden of proof of establishing guilt. Whether or not your client is actually guilty is largely irrelevant to that equation.

Personally I'd have a harder time sleeping at night if I knew my client was innocent and because of my lawyering skills (or lack thereof) the government actually convicted my client than if my client was actually guilty and because of my keen lawyering skills the government failed to get a conviction.




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