It is possible that a criminal lawsuit may be filed against a defendant either before or during criminal proceedings. This is particularly true of financial offenses. The advice and assistance of a St. Augustine criminal defense attorney can be vital in such situations.
How It Starts
Your St. Augustine criminal defense attorney can explain that private civil lawsuits and/or suits filed by government agencies (the SEC, the state attorney general) for cases like consumer fraud or securities violations can lead to criminal prosecutions. When regulatory agencies uncover information that indicates criminal activity and/or violation of regulations, they may file charges in both categories in order to obtain proper restitution and prevent additional illegal activity.
Your St. Augustine criminal defense lawyer may caution you that by responding to discovery and replying to pleadings, you could inadvertently give information that implicates you. If you choose not to reply, as it is your right in a civil matter, the opposition can interpret your refusal to your disadvantage (draw a negative inference). If you maintain total silence in the civil matter by refusing to answer at all, the court may render a default judgment. This could be extremely damaging to you both financially and professionally.
Unless the responsibility for production and proof falls to you, your St. Augustine criminal defense lawyer may be able to acquire discovery information via the civil proceeding that in a criminal case would be inaccessible.
Use or Abuse of Civil Litigation by the Prosecution
Your St. Augustine criminal defense lawyer can outline the restrictions set by the court upon the use of the civil matter and related discovery by the criminal prosecutor. The following are several cases in point:
- Your St. Augustine criminal defense attorney may describe an SEC case in which, to accumulate information for their case, the criminal prosecution’s use of interviews fell outside the proper boundaries. The court did not allow use of the statements obtained in those interviews.
- In another situation that your St. Augustine criminal defense attorney may be able to describe, the defendant was tricked by the prosecution into allowing himself to be questioned in a false naturalization interview. This deception was made in order to obtain an indictment on criminal grounds. The indictment was dismissed by the court along with all accompanying statements and perjury.
- As yet another example of misuse of discovery, your St. Augustine criminal defense attorney can point to a case in which the prosecutors and the attorneys for the SEC hid the fact that they shared the investigation between them, along with their joint intention to bring charges against the accused. The court ruled that the accused’s civil lawyers were deceived concerning any collaboration on the part of the SEC attorneys and the prosecution, and on that grounds, an indictment centering on the Fifth Amendment and due process was dismissed. In a later decision by the Court of Appeals, the dismissal and rulings of suppression were reversed, however. The Appeals Court ruled that by making a form saying that data given to the SEC could be seen by other entities available to the defense attorney, the opposition had provided satisfactory disclosure.
If You Have Questions
An experienced St. Augustine criminal defense attorney can assist you in finding answers. Call the Attorneys at Canan Law at (904) 849-2266 for help or information today.