There’s a story out of Connecticut that I find particularly troubling; a woman has entered a guilty plea to obstruction of justice after lying to federal agents in a health care fraud investigation. To my mind, obstruction of justice charges have one cause – failing to hire a lawyer when you need one.
Too many people think they can go it alone in a federal investigation and wait to hire a lawyer. This is a mistake. To be sure, there are drawbacks to hiring a lawyer – lawyers are expensive, they take time, they tell you things you may not want to hear. But they also can advise you how to act when you, or someone you know, is caught up in an investigation.
The woman in this story said she lied about whether a patient signed an admissions form. One may think that some folks are liars and some folks aren’t and that hiring a lawyer won’t make a difference. I disagree. A good lawyer can intelligently explain why lying is a remarkably bad strategy when you’re caught up in an investigation.
Moreover, most folks who are going to lie, lie when someone is talking to them. Hiring a lawyer early is an excellent way to make sure that you have to do the least amount of unaccompanied talking possible. And reducing the amount of your unaccompanied talking is a good way to reduce your exposure to an obstruction of justice charge.
If you have questions about how federal criminal charges are different than state criminal charges, please visit this page on Maryland federal criminal charges or Washington DC federal criminal charges.