If your spouse is being accused of a white collar crime you should consider getting your own attorney—even if you had no knowledge of your spouse’s crimes. Spouses of white collar criminals may not go to prison, but they face civil asset forfeiture and civil tax assessments.
In addition, they may find themselves being tasked with handling restitution payments while their spouse is in prison, even as they try to hold the family finances together.
White collar crime can also have tax implications: all income, both legally obtained and illegally obtained, must be reported to the IRS, which means your tax burden can skyrocket if you and your spouse were filing taxes together.
Assemble Your Dream Team
You need your own attorney. Don’t rely on your spouse’s attorney.
You may in fact need multiple attorneys. A criminal defense attorney. A tax attorney. A divorce may be a true need so that you can protect at least half of your marital property, which means hiring a divorce attorney.
As the spouse of a white-collar defendant, you have your own due process rights, and property rights you will need to protect. There are times when you will have to use the legal system to fight for your property and times when doing so could get you indicted as a co-conspirator.
Hire attorneys: don’t panic and hide assets, or even start trying to transfer them in moves that might look helpful but which could actually cause you much larger problems. This is a good way to wind up in white collar trouble of your own.
Maintain Your Right to Remain Silent
It’s hard when you’re an innocent spouse, because your reputation among your family members, friends, and community members will take a hit. Your impulse is going to be to talk about the case, to declare your own innocence, or even to vent.
Hire a therapist, but avoid speaking about the case to anyone else. Communication with a therapist is privileged. Communication with family members or friends is not, and any of it could be subpoenaed and used against you as well as your spouse. In addition, you should assume that your phone has been tapped and that you’re under surveillance, and conduct your affairs accordingly.
Take Your Position Seriously
You need to start taking steps to protect yourself from the moment you fiend out your spouse is a target of a federal investigation.
Your spouse may be convinced all will be well but you need to recognize that the entire weight and might of the federal government is coming for you and your family.