A few minutes ago, Robert Mueller and his team indicted and arrested Paul Manafort (Former Trump campaign chairman) and Rick Gates (former Trump campaign official). On a side note, additional breaking news this morning is that George Papadopolous, former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty for making false statements to the FBI). Read the indictment here.
Make no mistake about it. Being indicted and the subject of the prosecution of a state or federal felony is serious and potentially a life changing event. This is especially true when you take into consideration that more than 90% of all indictments result in convictions.
I’m not going to discuss whether or not Manafort and Gates deserved to be indicted. This also isn’t a post about victim rights (although that is the side of the fence I usually find myself on). I’m also going to leave politics out of this post.
What I do want to share with you are three things people should take into consideration to protect themselves and their families if they believe they are the subject of a criminal investigation which is going to result in an indictment or arrest.
Most lawyers don’t talk about these things. I do, and here you go.
Task #1: Hire a Great Lawyer
The first thing you need to do is hire an excellent criminal defense attorney. The better your lawyer, the greater your chances of presenting a successful defense.
Along those same lines, the earlier you hire a lawyer, the better your chances are of avoiding charges in the first place. If that’s not possible, your lawyer may be able to negotiate the timing of the actual initiation of the criminal action to give you time to do what I mention below. What I mean by this is instead of having your door unexpectedly kicked down at 4 am in the morning, your lawyer can negotiate a time and place for you to voluntarily turn yourself in.
Furthermore, a good lawyer will help you plan with a bail bonds agent to determine what will need to be done to secure sufficient bail to keep you out of jail. Bail bond fee schedules can be reviewed to determine how much money you’ll need to come up with allowing you to stay out of custody during your prosecution and trial which can take years.
In addition to the above, talk to your lawyer about helping you do the following tasks:
Task #2: Attorney-Client Privilege and Attorney Work-Product Doctrine
Anything you say to your attorney is protected. It can’t be used in a criminal prosecution against you. Along those same lines, any work, research, investigation or information developed by your lawyer, on your behalf, is also protected from disclosure.
Coordinate the following tasks that apply to you with your lawyer. He or she will use the attorney-client privilege and attorney work-product doctrine to consult with you, keep things private, and help with all the items in Task #3 below.
Task #3: Have Your Lawyer Maintain Your Private Information
Understanding the above, coordinate with your lawyer the following information. Why? Because you may be taken into custody and subject to making bail, you may not see your family or the light of day for many years to come.
By coordinating all of these with your lawyer, he or she will gather and keep this information in a safe place. Becuase your lawyer is doing this, the lists, documents, and related information will not be discoverable by the prosecution. The attorney or a representative of his or her office will coordinate putting together these lists and obtain copies of all the following documents, items, and things.
The information and documents might include some, or all, of the following:
1. A list, and copies of all related documents, of your family and business bank accounts (checking, savings, investment…). Your family is going to have to continue paying the bills while you are in custody or incarcerated. Monthly business obligations are not going away just because you’re going into custody. Have your lawyer (not you), gather, keep and protect this information so that its privacy is protected under the Attorney-Client Privilege and Attorney Work-Product Doctrine.
2. A list and copies of all related documents, of your family and business assets (similar to the above). Addresses, account numbers and anything else of value should be acquired by your lawyer so that your family has access when needed.
3. A list and copies of all related documents, of all your online business, social media and digital accounts. This includes all usernames and passwords. This is especially true for those of you doing business online or participating in online banking, transactions, and investing.
4. A list and copies of all related documents, of all your monthly family and business bills and other obligations including auto, home and business insurance policies, accounts, and payment requirements.
5. A list and copies of all related documents, of all your estate planning and asset protection documents and plan descriptions.
6. A list and copies of all related documents, of your asset and healthcare powers of attorney. You may also want to execute durable powers of attorney for everyday life and business transactions.
7. Business relationships: Make necessary decisions and organize and execute all documents necessary to allow business partners, corporate officers… to run and manage business without your physical attendance. This includes director, officer and shareholder meetings.
7. A list of all important people in your life with full contact information. This allows your family members, through your attorney, to contact people on your behalf.
This list of items should give you a good idea of what information I believe you need to put together subject to your lawyer’s final advice and instructions. From the moment you are under suspicion of committing a crime through indictment, arrest, trial and conviction or acquittal, you will be living your life under a microscope. By hiring a lawyer and coordinating the above, you and your family will be ready for anything that happens.