When people hear that someone close to them is facing criminal charges, their thoughts usually go out to that individual. However, it may be wise to think about whether you might have criminal exposure. Keep reading to learn what criminal exposure is and how you can limit it if the state charges someone near you.
Criminal exposure is the idea that unresolved criminal questions might surround certain people. Suppose a company's CEO is facing embezzlement charges. In most cases, a prosecutor is going to want to talk with other company executives, board members, accountants, and even lawyers. That circle of people around the CEO has criminal exposure.
What Should You Do?
Foremost, you should retain counsel as soon as suspect someone near you has been or will be charged with criminal charges. You do not have to wait for the charges to come down. If state police officers conducted a search of their house, for example, that may be a good reason for you to call a criminal attorney.
If you have any possible evidence, the first thing to do is to preserve it. Particularly when it comes to the people surrounding a defendant, they often don't face charges for acts directly tied to the crime. Instead, prosecutors frequently charge them with process crimes.
A process crime is an offense against the system. Suppose a drug defendant had roommates. Further, suppose those roommates knew where the defendant hid drugs and then they moved them before police could find them. That could lead to an obstruction of justice charge, even if the roommate had no part in the ongoing drug activity.
In criminal defense, a similar logic applies to things like videos, texts, chats, and voicemail messages. Do not delete or destroy anything. It is better to have to explain something than to face an obstruction charge.
What if You Are Just a Witness?
When a prosecutor comes knocking, no one is just a witness. Everyone has criminal exposure. You might be the defendant's mother, and a prosecutor may threaten you with obstruction of justice charges if you don't testify against your child. Even if you're just a witness, hire a criminal attorney to help you answer investigators' questions.
For more information about your specific situation, contact a criminal defense attorney. Attorneys specializing in criminal cases can advise you on how to proceed and how you can avoid criminal charges.