White Collar Crimes
A large portion of Paul’s cases, in Atlanta and throughout the country, are called "white collar matters". These are matters handled by a criminal defense lawyer who represents a person or company who is under investigation for or being actually prosecuted for a crime. The matter is generally referred to as “white collar” because the supposed crime does not involve violence, and the setting is usually within the context of a business. A white collar case is distinguished from a “street crime”, which is sometimes the name used to refer to person-on-person crimes.
A wide variety of matters can fall within the white collar category. Often, these cases involve allegations of fraud or other alleged misconduct within a certain business area. Paul has handled white collar matters in many business fields, including: banking, food services, manufacturing, real estate, medicine, securities, IT, the military, real estate development, automobile sales, entertainment, politics, government, tax preparation, and international logistics. Many of Paull’s white collar clients fall within the overused term of being an “entrepreneur”, which means they are individuals who might have crossed a line or two when creating new businesses and jobs.
Quite often, Paul’s white collar clients fall within a profession, such as law, medicine, accounting, architecture and other fields where a person is required to be licensed. Representing a person in one if these fields carries extra issues that an attorney must be prepared to address. For example, even if the lawyer convinces the prosecutors to not bring a criminal case, the client may still be facing issues with the licensing board or other regulatory body. Furthermore, some clients are obligated to cooperate with investigations by certain regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission. Paul has represented many individuals who were regulated by the SEC and other similar agencies. He has experience with helping his clients make the very difficult decision of either responding to inquiries and testifying versus facing the consequences of asserting the client’s Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Clients in these fields or who face other licensing or regulatory scrutiny typically need a criminal defense lawyer who is well-versed in handling these additional issues that arise in this type of white collar case.
For many years, white collar matters were almost always handled in the federal court system. As a result, most accomplished attorneys who handle white collar cases are also lawyers who regularly represent individuals or companies investigated or prosecuted in the federal court system. As shown elsewhere on this site, much of Paul’s practice over the past 36 years has been in the federal courts in Atlanta and throughout the country. Federal criminal cases can sometimes be quite different than the same case in the state court system, and anyone facing such a matter needs to assure that his or her attorney is very familiar with what happens in a federal criminal case.
Although the federal courts were the place where most white collar cases were handled in the past, there is a trend by which more and more matters are handled in the state courts. Most local District Attorney’s offices in major metropolitan areas now have one or two lawyers who handle such cases. We also are seeing more and more white collar cases being handled by specialized units set up in statewide offices such as the Attorney General of a specific state. The Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCU’s) now found in almost every state are a good example of this trend. As a result, a person or company facing a white collar criminal case needs to have an attorney who is accustomed to working with this newer generation of white collar investigation unit.
White collar cases often are investigated for many months, or even years. As a result, the organization or individual under the investigative microscope is aware of the investigation far earlier than other types of criminal cases. Many times, Paul is in regular communication with the Assistant United States Attorney (the “AUSA”) who is heading up the investigation. This communication allows Paul to monitor the investigation as best as possible. Good criminal defense lawyers also try to communicate with the lawyers for other people or companies who are involved in or affected by the investigation. On occasion, Paul will enter into something called a “joint defense agreement”, a process by which the lawyers can informally share information with each other that cannot be provided to the government at a later date.
Many white collar cases begin with a grand jury investigation. Sometimes the grand jury issues subpoenas to Paul’s client, to a business, or to someone who the prosecutors view as merely a potential witness. Elsewhere on this site is a discussion of how Paul and other accomplished criminal defense attorneys handle witness representation in this context.
The vast majority of people and companies caught up in a white collar matter have zero experience with the criminal justice system. As a result, targets or subjects of white collar crime investigations and prosecutions do not know about the dangers lurking in a federal white collar investigation. Individuals and companies facing such matters must consult with attorneys besides their regular business lawyers. Paul Kish has handled hundreds of these matters in his 36 years as a criminal defense lawyer. Contact Paul if you have such a matter and would like to discuss the situation.