The information on this website is presented as a service for our clients and Internet users and is not intended to be legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. Although we welcome your inquiries, please keep in mind that merely contacting us will not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Consequently, you should not convey any confidential information to us until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Please remember that electronic correspondence on the internet is not secure and that you should not include sensitive or confidential information in messages. With that in mind, we look forward to hearing from you.

Skip to Content

How to Recognize a Government Investigation

Spot the criminal exposure before it’s too late.

While criminal law is getting more complex, with landmines for the unwary lurking everywhere, defenses to crimes seem to have gotten simpler. Today, there are only two real defenses in a criminal case: “I didn’t do it” and “It didn’t happen that way.” While the burden of proof is high in a criminal case — beyond a reasonable doubt — prosecutors can easily meet that standard when the defendant previously admitted to the crime or the bad conduct in a deposition or in an interview. Civil lawyers many times simply do not see or comprehend a client’s criminal exposure in a civil case until it is too late. Indeed, the risks for civil lawyers abound when their clients also have criminal problems. Civil lawyers should learn to spot the issues and the risk to the client, and promptly involve competent counsel to avoid a later professional liability claim. Sometimes, advising a client to seek a continuance of a deposition, or to invoke the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, or to refuse to participate in an informal interview with the government, could be the difference between the client’s freedom and his going to jail. This article, published in the October 2012 issue of The Practical Lawyer, will provide some background about where civil and criminal law overlap and how civil practitioners can spot red flags.

Read: How to Recognize a Government Investigation

©2024 Carlton Fields, P.A. Carlton Fields practices law in California through Carlton Fields, LLP. Carlton Fields publications should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information and educational purposes only, and should not be relied on as if it were advice about a particular fact situation. The distribution of this publication is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship with Carlton Fields. This publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication or proceeding without the prior written consent of the firm, to be given or withheld at our discretion. To request reprint permission for any of our publications, please use our Contact Us form via the link below. The views set forth herein are the personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the firm. This site may contain hypertext links to information created and maintained by other entities. Carlton Fields does not control or guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this outside information, nor is the inclusion of a link to be intended as an endorsement of those outside sites.