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Challenging Gag Orders in White Collar Cases

White Collar Criminal Defense By Harvey Binnall PLLC - 2018/08/10 at 09:36am

In the white collar criminal defense context, defendants may benefit substantially from being able to speak to the media about their case.  Criminal charges — particularly those that involve high-stakes white collar criminal activity — often draw significant attention, and as such, the public is likely to speculate about the guilt of the parties involved before trial even begins.

Gag orders are judicial rulings that prevent public disclosure relating to information on a particular case.  Gag orders are generally intended to protect the defendant, witnesses, or other parties in a criminal prosecution.  For example, a gag order preventing anyone involved in the case from speaking to third-parties may limit the potential for public opinion to crystallize and influence the outcome of a case.

Still, the intention of a gag order does not necessarily comport with reality.  Gag orders that prevent or limit the defendant from speaking to various third-parties, such as members of the media, may inadvertently harm the defendant — in many cases, the public is likely to assume the guilt of a defendant who “remains quiet” when serious charges have been brought against them.  Even if the defendant is later found innocent, the damage to their reputation may be significant and impossible to correct.

Depending on the circumstances of your white collar case, you may want to enforce a gag order, or prevent its enforcement.  Let’s take a look at the basics.

Overbroad Gag Orders Can Be Challenged

As a general rule, gag orders must only be enacted to prevent disclosure (to the degree necessary) to ensure a fair trial.  Gag orders need not be absolute or all-encompassing, and as such, gag orders that prevent all public disclosure relating to a case may be challenged as constitutionally over-broad impositions on the defendant’s right to free speech.

White collar criminal defendants may benefit a great deal from having an opportunity to speak candidly to the public about the charges that have been brought against them, as business could be significantly impacted, even if the charges are eventually dropped (perhaps after a negotiation with government prosecutors).  While the case is “in the limelight,” defendants can tell their side of the story, thus building trust with the public that will hopefully soften the harm caused by the charges.

Contact an Experienced Alexandria White Collar Defense Attorney for Guidance

If you have been charged with a white collar crime, then you may be confused as to how to approach the impending litigation effectively.  White collar criminal litigation may not only have an impact on individual lives, but could also significantly harm the reputation and general health of a business organization.  Given these high-stakes, it’s critical that you consult with a qualified attorney.

Harvey & Binnall, PLLC is a boutique white collar criminal defense firm that has represented individuals and businesses in a range of white collar criminal disputes.  We have decades of experience handling complex white collar criminal litigation, and have a long track record of success in navigating the difficulties typically associated with such disputes — from over-broad gag orders to aggressive plea negotiations.

Call (703) 888-1943 or submit an online case form to speak to an experienced Alexandria white collar defense attorney at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC.