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The High Costs of Corporate White Collar Criminal Defense Can Force Innocent Defendants to Plead Guilty

The seemingly unlimited resources of the Federal Government present a decidedly tilted playing field against an average person facing white collar criminal charges. Some defendants may expect their employers to cover their defense bills, but instead they face termination, creating a loss of income that makes the legal expenses that much harder to bear. A guilty plea often presents the most affordable option - even when a defendant is actually innocent. 

While trying to mount an effective defense against potentially vast evidence collected by federal investigators, individuals have no guarantees of winning their cases as they incur millions of dollars of expenses, including:

  • Significant billable hours of time spent with a white collar defense lawyer to review every detail of a case
  • Fees for forensic accountants, jury consultants, private investigators and other professionals
  • The costs of conducting mock trials
  • Copying and other administrative costs
  • The costs associated with appeals

People charged with a white collar crime need to have a frank discussion about projected expenses with a white collar defense attorney. They also need to understand that Federal Sentencing Guidelines typically reduce the length of prison sentences when defendants plead guilty, based on the concept that these defendants take responsibility for their crimes. According to Forbes.com, a guilty plea still results in high costs involving plea bargain negotiations and numerous other expenses and, of course, a potential prison term. Nonetheless, these expenses do not hold a candle to the costs of fighting a claim, which may explain why 97 percent of those who face federal charges choose to plead guilty.

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  • HSBA Hawaii State Bar Association
  • Judiciary State Of Hawaii
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  • United States District Court, Northern District of California
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