There might come a day when you face any kind of legal charges as an entrepreneur. Whether it’s compliance issues, more direct violations, or patent problems, you will need a solid plan to navigate the legal mess you might find yourself into.
Facing criminal charges can get nasty especially, for a small business and therefore you must be prepared in advance.
If you find yourself in a legal situation with criminal charges, here are some things you can do to help yourself:
If You Are Already Facing Charges
1. Make Sure You Have All Your Legal Documents Ready
The most important documents are identity proofs. Make sure you have a copy of them with you at all times.
A lot of times charges can be false or just malicious. It is good to have all the documents that might relate to the charge on you ready so that you can submit them as evidence of your innocence.
In fact, you could be the wrong suspect and in that case, solid proof of identity can save you a lot of trouble.
2. Hire A Lawyer
As soon as you learn of any charges against you, find and get in touch with a lawyer. It’s good to have a lawyer on retainer for any business or at least have potential attorneys in mind to contact in case of trouble.
Let’s say a lawyer doesn’t accept your case or doesn’t have the time to assist you on urgent matters (as they do in many scenarios) then don’t wait and actively look out for a lawyer.
Explore your budget and options, but do them quickly so that you can immediately start working to clear your name.
3. Be Prepared To Be Frank
It is important that you are honest with the lawyer you’ve hired. Especially, if you are facing criminal charges and have a criminal defense attorney defending your case.
It can be tricky to reveal the places you know you might have messed up. But if your defense is to be prepared strongly, you have to own up to your mistakes.
Give the attorney your perspective and all other facts clearly so they are not blindsided in court and can protect your interests to the best.
4. Understand Your Charges
The intensity of charges will determine the severity of your punishment. You should also know what exactly the charges entail.
Ask your lawyer to explain if you don’t know or understand the charges. Your priority should be bail if you’re charged under a bailable offense and if not, then you must prepare to survive the circumstances while you get bail.
At no point take charges lightly but also don’t give away any information. Help your lawyer come up with a good defense strategy for you.
5. Hire A Private Investigator
Hiring a private investigator is not illegal as long as they use legal means to find what they are looking for.
If you suspect that someone has framed you, hire a private investigator to look into the charges and collect evidence against that person.
You can also use their help to collect supporting evidence for yourself so that no information remains unraveled and you are ready for any accusation that comes your way.
This does not mean there aren’t risks to hiring an investigator. Resort to this means only when you know there is no other way of evidence collection.
6. Make Peace With Negative Publicity
The sad reality is the minute a business does something wrong, it finds its way into the news. Particularly, if there are criminal charges involved.
You have to be patient and not launch a counter-media attack without consulting your lawyer or a PR firm.
In fact, it is best you steer clear of the media till the time you are under charge in order to protect yourself and your business from any false accusations and speculation.
7. Don’t Try To Cover Up Your Tracks
If you’ve been charged with some violations don’t go covering your tracks up. That is a sure-proof way of getting into jail.
It might seem as if you are out of danger for a while but it does come back to bite you.
Stay put and focus on your defense and follow the advice of your lawyer. Even if you are a wealthy entrepreneur do not think of bribing any parties involved at any point as it is unlawful and will land you in jail.
How To Protect Yourself From Future Charges:
Once you’ve dealt with any current issues, you must protect yourself from future harm. If you haven’t ever faced any criminal charges, here’s how to continue avoiding them:
1. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA)
NDAs are one of the most effective tools to protect your trade secrets. You must sign them with all parties you deal with. Also, ensure all those that work with you or for you also become a party to an NDA from the beginning of their employment.
2. Know Who You Work With
You should learn as much as you can about the people you are working with. This seems paranoid but it is most helpful if your business involves bending rules.
It is also a good idea to run background checks on your employees to make sure they do not have a criminal record or can prove to be loyal workers.
3. Ensuring Followthrough With Compliance Laws
Hire specific lawyers or employees to keep your business up-to-date with the compliance laws and do regular check-ins with any amendments or new policies that might be relevant to your endeavor.
The Final Word
The work of an entrepreneur is to create. However, creating problems that can land you in legal issues is not the right way to go about your entrepreneurial journey.
Therefore, the biggest tool you can have as an entrepreneur is caution and awareness. Use your time to learn about the legal aspects of your work and comply with all laws and regulations strictly.
Criminal Charges can be destructive for your reputation as well as for your business and pose challenges even if you are acquitted. Therefore, tread with caution and rely on legal experts to get you out of the mess.