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You've been accused of doing something wrong.

You need an advocate

We’ve had many clients wrongly accused. And if we’re able to get involved early, we stand a better chance of addressing the issues before they spiral out of control. If an employer or someone else has informed you that they believe you’ve committed a crime or a securities law violation, you should retain counsel as soon as you can.

First steps

You’ll want to preserve any documents or emails that relate to the accusation. You should not agree to speak with anyone about the facts without having an attorney present, or at least without consulting with an attorney first. A good attorney will try to make sure that any interview provides you with an opportunity to review relevant information and documents prior to making a statement.

It can’t really be that bad, can it?

Many clients start out with the view that, since they don’t believe they have done anything wrong, all they need to do is cooperate with their employer and everything will be fine. In our experience, it can go that way, but it is far more likely that once a company fixates on an employee or corporate officer as the source of the problem, the company’s and individual’s interests diverge. At that point, the company is interested in putting distance between itself and the “wrongdoer.” We’ve had clients who cooperated with internal investigations in good faith end up wrongly accused, indicted, sued, and prosecuted. Once momentum builds in that direction, it is difficult to stop.

Should I refuse to cooperate?

Although this is sometimes the answer, depending on where things stand, refusing to cooperate outright is a difficult judgment call. You need experienced advice before taking such a step. Often, the price of refusing to cooperate is immediate termination. Termination will often happen in any event, even following a cooperative interview, but getting legal advice on this important decision can help you shape the narrative, get important information into the record, and often begin a cooperative process with the company that will stand you in good stead as the matter progresses to a government investigation.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Being accused of wrongdoing is no joke. It is very easy to be drawn into the legal justice system. It is far less easy, once in, to be extracted from it. At times, the system seems to be set up as an automated process–assuming guilt and denying the presumption of innocence that is supposed to lie at the foundation of our individual rights as citizens. The worst that can happen is that an innocent person is accused of a crime and is found gulilty; it happens far too often.

Hiring a lawyer

If the SEC or DOJ (or, not infrequently, both agencies) begin an investigation, the issue of whether or not to hire an attorney becomes a threshold decision. What should individual executives or employees be thinking about? Find out how to hire a lawyer here.

Legal FAQs answered by SECIL Law group photo featuring Janet DeCosta, Lionel Andre, and Adriaen Morse

Get in Touch

“SECIL” stands for what we do: Securities Enforcement Compliance Investigations & Litigation.  We help companies and individuals with sophisticated criminal and civil litigation, whistleblower disclosures, compliance and anti-corruption programs, and a range of other services.