In Texas, financial crime is punished harshly. If you’ve received a notice that you are being investigated or if you’ve been arrested for fraud, you should speak to financial crime lawyers in Houston as soon as possible. They can analyze your situation and come up with a plan of action, show you how to best present yourself to the judge, and make motions to suppress evidence or dismiss your case.
Ask a Financial Crime Lawyer: 5 Steps to Preparing Your Fraud Defense Case
1. Contact Financial Crime Lawyers in Houston
Texas is one of the states with the most fraud and scam charges in the US, so if you’re being investigated, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are many financial crime attorneys in and around Houston, and it won’t be hard to find the help you need. To avoid serious consequences such as losing your business or going to jail, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
Your attorney will invite you to an initial consultation during which you can speak about your situation and explain why you are being investigated. The lawyer can then let you know the potential consequences of the investigation. If you provide them with an adequate amount of information, the attorney might already have some ideas about how to fight for your rights. At the end of your first meeting, you can decide whether you would like to hire them.
2. Prepare Your Case
Before charging you with fraud, the prosecutor has to prove four elements: that you were in a position to commit fraud or embezzlement, that you took money or assets without the knowledge of the owner, that you used the other party’s property for your own benefit, and that you intended to permanently keep the assets. During the preparation phase, your attorney can come up with a plan to dismantle one or more of these elements.
For instance, the lawyer might argue that you never intended to commit fraud. Criminal intent is hard to prove, so your case could be dismissed if the prosecution can’t provide enough evidence that you meant to act fraudulently. Alternatively, your attorney could have your case thrown out because there is not enough compelling evidence, or they could argue that you acted under duress.
3. Present Your Best Self at the Arraignment
After being investigated or arrested, your first appearance in court will be the arraignment. During this meeting, the judge formally notifies you of the charges filed against you, and they ask you to enter a plea. Unless your lawyer specifically asks you to plead guilty, you should always claim that you are innocent. It’s important to remember that you can always change your plea later on, and there are no penalties associated with pleading guilty at a later time.
Additionally, you should always present your best self during your arraignment. Arrive on time or early, dress formally, and remain cool and collected no matter what happens during the meeting. This makes a good impression on the judge and can help strengthen your position.
4. Bring Motions in the Case
A motion is a request your lawyer makes to the judge. There are various types of motions that can reduce the amount of evidence brought against you or get your case thrown out. The attorney could file for a motion to dismiss your case because your right to a speedy trial was violated, the government didn’t preserve the evidence, you were detained unlawfully, or there is insufficient evidence of a crime.
Similarly, your lawyer can ask for the suppression of evidence because you made involuntary statements or because your right to remain silent or your right to an attorney was violated. If the lawyer is successful, your case could be closed at the motion hearing, and you won’t have to proceed to trial.
5. Attempt to Resolve the Case Before the Trial
Well over 90% of cases never go to trial because the defendants either plead guilty or the case is dismissed at some point beforehand. The penultimate step in a court case is the readiness hearing, so this is your final chance to settle matters before the trial.
The readiness hearing serves to confirm that both parties are prepared for the trial, but sometimes, the case can be resolved during this step. Your financial crime lawyers in Houston can let you know ahead of time what the goals of the readiness hearing are and whether they will aim to come to an agreement with the prosecutor.
Anyone who has been convicted of a financial crime should book a meeting with an attorney who can help them prepare relevant evidence. In Houston, white-collar crime is not uncommon, so there are highly qualified lawyers available. Your attorney can help you appear calm and confident during the arraignment and subsequent meetings, and they can reduce your sentence or have your case dismissed with the help of motions.