In mid-March, the FBI established a nationwide program to combat fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic. From selling counterfeit personal protective equipment to filing false unemployment insurance claims, there are all kinds of fraudulent offenses that could result in criminal charges.
If you’re being investigated for COVID-19 fraud—or you’ve already been charged with a crime—there’s a lot at stake. Depending on the circumstances, a conviction could have lasting repercussions that affect your life for years to come.
As such, it’s important to act fast. As soon as you learn the state or federal government is trying to build a case against you, take the following steps:
1. Assert Your Rights
The Fifth Amendment grants suspects the right to remain silent so as to avoid incriminating themselves. Generally speaking, it’s advisable to assert this right politely but firmly when interacting with law enforcement personnel. Even if you just want to explain your side of the story, there’s no way to be sure that what you say won’t be misinterpreted and then used against you in a court of law.
Whether you’re being questioned or arrested, you have the right to remain silent. Simply let police know that you do not wish to answer any of their questions before consulting an attorney.
2. Deactivate Your Social Media Accounts
The government has all kinds of resources for investigating suspects, but oftentimes, monitoring their online presence is all that’s needed to gather sufficient evidence against them. If you have any social media accounts, it’s wise to deactivate them as soon as you become aware of the pending case against you.
For added protection, you may be thinking about deleting your accounts altogether. Since doing so could be considered spoliation of evidence, though, it’s unadvisable.
3. Consult a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Both state and federal governments take COVID-19 fraud seriously, and they’re determined to prosecute those who commit it to the fullest extent of the law. As such, you shouldn’t expect any leniency whatsoever if you’re charged with a related offense.
That doesn’t mean, however, that a conviction is inevitable. With the right defense strategy, it may be possible to fight the charges and secure a favorable outcome.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine the best way to proceed based on the circumstances. After conducting a thorough investigation to gather the evidence needed to support your defense, your legal team will attempt to negotiate with the prosecutor, who may be willing to reduce your charges or drop them altogether, depending on the circumstances.
Speak with a New York Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you’ve found yourself on the wrong side of the law because of your alleged conduct during the COVID-19 pandemic, turn to Jennifer Runfola at LoTempio P.C. Law Group. After evaluating the evidence against you, Jennifer will use all the resources at her disposal to help you devise a strategic defense. Call 716-855-3761 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in New York.