updated - July 8, 2020 Wednesday EDT
Running a business smoothly can be a challenge, considering the complexities of managing operations, fighting out the competition and handling taxes and regulations. The last thing you would want to deal with is a lawsuit. However, avoiding legal hassles is easier said than done because you may find yourself in trouble for one reason or the other. The issues may range from employee injuries to client disputes and copyright infringement. There may be criminal proceedings for fraud, tax evasion, and sexual harassment. Whatever kind of a lawsuit you may face, it is always a threat to business continuity, whether you are guilty or just implicated wrongly. It is important to understand your protective options so that you can handle lawsuits properly and prevent them from hampering your business operations. Here is some useful advice in this context.
Be aware of what may implicate you
When it comes to white-collar crime, both businesses and individuals can be convicted. Though businesses cannot be sent to jail, they may face penalties in the form of fines and revoking of their license. Further, they may lose their reputation due to bad words. As a business operates through its owners, employees, and directors, the actions of these individuals implicate the business for a crime. An individual may be charged with a white-collar crime in personal capacity or in context with their employment. The second case results in criminal charges against the business entity.
Watch everything you say or do
Obviously, the image and reputation of a business depend on the actions of the owners and their employees. As an owner or employee, you need to be careful about everything you say and do. Apart from intentional fraud or wrong actions like sexual harassment, there could be some criminal acts that you may do unknowingly or unintentionally. For example, making any potentially slanderous public announcements or conducting any questionable business activity can land you in trouble. Even doing business with unscrupulous individuals can put you in a fix. As a rule, you should be careful about every word and action.
Hire a competent lawyer
As a part of your legal defense strategy, you should have a standby legal counsel right from the start. It makes sense to have an attorney with proper knowledge of the local laws in the area of business operations. Having someone on a retainer model is a good idea because they can guide you before you act and spring into action if a lawsuit comes up at any point in time. According to Scott Dattan a criminal defense attorney in Anchorage AK, you should be quick to consult a defense lawyer even if you suspect that your business is being investigated for a criminal issue such as fraud. And you would definitely need one to represent you in the court if you are sued.
Know when to you are being investigated
It may be hard to know whether your business is the subject of a criminal investigation at any time. It may have come into the radar of an ongoing investigation but the authorities may have not contacted you yet. You will eventually learn that you are under the lens but it always helps to know sooner rather than later so that you can take swift action in defense. A law enforcement official will probably reach out to you personally, through writing or over the phone in the context of the investigation. They may try asking questions but it is best not to answer without the advice of a criminal defense lawyer. You may receive a target letter from a federal prosecutor informing you about a federal investigation. In that case, too, you must call a lawyer immediately.
Understand the right action
The one and the only way to deal with a criminal charge is to have a seasoned lawyer helping you with defense. So you must contact one as soon as you learn that you are a suspect or under investigation. Never speak or answer any questions of the investigators unless your legal counsel is present. Anything you speak or even lie can be used against you as evidence in the court. Even if you are innocent, you must still avoid saying anything because the prosecutor may use it to build a case against you.
Whether or not you are guilty, do not tamper with any piece of evidence. Avoid deleting emails or text messages or destroying paperwork even in the normal course of business because these may be of help to the case later. Be sure to seek guidance from your lawyer throughout the case.
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