When criminal cases involve government contracts, the criminal justice system becomes even more complex. Contractor defense attorneys not only have to understand the court rules but also have to master the federal procurement regulations. Many firms work together with criminal defense attorneys and government contract lawyers on the same defense team. Many businesses make the mistake of hiring one or the other. The results overwhelming favor federal prosecutors because they know that the traditional criminal defense attorney may not fully grasp the concepts of federal procurement.
Do Your Hire a Court Appointed Attorney or a Private Attorney?
Many defendants cannot afford to hire a private attorney. Unfortunately, in that situation, one would have to resort to hiring a court-appointed lawyer. Again, the problem in government contract fraud criminal cases is that the court-appointed attorney may not fully understand the ins and outs of government contract law. The results seem to be obvious – more criminal convictions.
What Does a Government Contractor Criminal Defense Attorney Do?
A government contractor criminal defense attorney will assess the federal prosecutor’s case and review the evidence. Depending on the results of a federal investigation, the evidence against you can be overwhelming. However, in some cases, the government’s case can be weak. Therefore, it is a good chance for a federal criminal defense lawyer to uncover the mistakes in the government’s case. This can lead to the settlement of the case or simply getting the case dismissed.
If the case goes past the indictment stage, criminal defense attorneys prepare and talk to a potential witness, and look at the possibility of liability and the risk that the defendant makes. More importantly, defense counsel should frequently discuss and consult with the client.
White Collar Crimes – Civil & Criminal Liability
White-collar crimes involving federal government contractors can either be civil or criminal or both. The. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been known to bring criminal charges and civil charges on the contractor for the same situation. The facts in the two cases may overlap. However, since the burden of proof in a criminal case is much higher, the results can be different to prove. Types of cases that white-collar government contract crimes develop include:
- Falsifying information on government contract proposals
- Using Federal funds to purchase items that are not for Government use
- Double billing more than one contract for the same work
- Billing for expenses not incurred as part of the contract
- Billing for unperformed work
- Falsifying data to defraud the government
- Substituting approved materials with unauthorized products
- Misrepresenting a project’s status to continue receiving Government funds
- Pass-through government contracts
- False certifications for small business programs
- Charging higher rates than those stated or negotiated for in the bid or contract; and
- Influencing government employees to award a grant or contract to a particular company
Cost of Legal Representation
When defending government contractors in a criminal or civil case, it is very expensive to engage an attorney. Many large firms charge upwards of $850 per hour in criminal cases. Small to medium-size firms range anywhere from $475 to $650 per hour. A criminal case cannot be done on a contingency basis. Other costs to legal representation can include hiring experts, deposition costs, and many hours of interviewing potential witnesses.
What. Type of Criminal Defense Attorney Should I Look For?
When you are charged with procurement fraud or False Claims Act violations, whether it be a civil or criminal case, the stakes are high, and you want to find the right defense attorney. As discussed earlier, many clients simply hire local criminal defense lawyers. This can be problematic in a government contract fraud criminal case. To get a fair chance at a proper defense, the attorney would have to at least have a working knowledge of the underlying criminal charges from the government’s attorneys (DOJ, SBA OIG, etc).
You want to hire an attorney that can have a shot a putting forth a viable legal defense. To accomplish this, he or she would have to understand the basics of federal contracting rules or the Underlying statutes where the case is derived. For example, you may be facing criminal charges and false claims that stem from the Buy American Act. Other common cases involve procurement fraud in the SBA 8(a) BD Program and HUBZone Program. Other cases can involve SDVOSB fraud and similar charges. They will all lead to charges of False Claims Act violations.
Do Large Contractors Have to Hire a Large Law Firm for Criminal Defense?
There is a misconception that you can only win a case when you hire a large firm. That misconception has proved to be fatal in many government contract criminal cases. Defense contractor fraud lawyers often get calls after a company has spent upwards of $500,000 to only find out that the firm may not have been really family with federal procurement rules. This can be frustrating when the case is on the way to trial. Hiring a large law firm for criminal defense in a procurement fraud case can be extremely expensive and with no guarantees.
Speak with a Government Contractor Criminal Defense Attorney
For a Free Confidential Consultation for a federal criminal case involving federal government contracting, call me, government contracts criminal defense attorney ( Theodore Watson) today at 7209417200.