Digital evidence often plays a major role in white-collar criminal cases. Police officers or even federal investigators will use everything from internet search history and email correspondence to bank transfer records to develop their allegations that someone committed a financial crime.
Those accused of fraud often face a mountain of seemingly indecipherable evidence. With so much paperwork and such a long digital trail to follow, defendants often feel like they have no choice but to plead guilty, as they have no idea where to even start defending themselves.
Before you give up and determine that you have no way of protecting your future or your reputation, you should consider whether you might have reasons to challenge some of the digital evidence the state wants to use against you.
Was the evidence obtained in a questionable manner?
Securing evidence for criminal cases often requires that federal agencies or individual law enforcement professionals get creative in their approach. They might cooperate with an inside informant or even try to manipulate or trick someone into giving them access to information.
If the steps taken to secure evidence against you violated your civil rights or broke the law, you might be in a position to challenge the evidence and ask the courts to exclude it from your case.
Does the evidence point to you specifically?
If digital records were the result of a legally obtained and properly executed search warrant, that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself when accused of fraud. Finding a way to undermine the prosecution’s claims about the meaning of their digital evidence can help you protect yourself.
Perhaps the transactions or communications in question weren’t sent by you but by an assistant, or someone who has access to your digital devices. Maybe your computer was a shared device that several other people also used. It’s even possible that the IT department had recently replaced your computer with another device, and the records that seem to implicate you actually relate to someone else’s use of the same computer.
Was there someone with a grudge at your office who had a habit of social engineering or expert computer use? Is the evidence itself so complex that there’s no way to reasonably draw a conclusion from it? There can be many different workplace and employment scenarios that create reasonable doubt when it comes to digital evidence.
Those facing charges need to look at every option
Going after the evidence itself is only one of many ways in which someone accused of fraud offenses can defend themselves. Reanalyzing the evidence to create a different perspective regarding your decisions, introducing additional evidence or undermining the credibility of those involved in implicating you, could all also be viable defense strategies.
The sooner you start looking at the evidence, the sooner you can determine what approach may work best.