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White collar crime cases could be complicated by confession must

Cases ranging from violent crimes to white collar crimes can be approached in various ways. Sometimes, a defendant will plead not guilty. Sometimes, he will plead guilty in a plea deal.

There is a gray area regarding civil cases of white collar crimes that allows defendants such as banks, for example, to get the legal situation over with by agreeing to a settlement with the SEC. The SEC is looking to make an important change to that process, however, a change that might not sit well with defendants accused of different types of financial fraud.

Currently and in the past, the SEC has managed to get financial settlements for alleged victims of financial schemes in a way that allowed defendants to neither admit nor deny any wrongdoing. Basically, the setup allowed for a case to conclude and for supposed victims to be compensated without any guilt officially being acknowledged or assigned. Banks, for example, would agree to pay millions in compensation without ever saying, "We were wrong."

Various judges around the country have challenged the settlement processes, even having put off the approval of settlements due to their discomfort regarding a lack of acknowledged liability. The SEC is addressing this problematic issue. It may soon require that in some cases of "egregious" white collar crimes defendants must admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

The added requirement would be significant to defendants such as banks or other business entities. Money is one thing; a reputation is another. Admitting guilt might not be the appropriate move for defendants who are seeking to settle their cases to simply move on. What's best and appropriate comes down to the individual case and defendant and should only be determined with the help of an experienced lawyer, whether it is a civil or a criminal case.


Source: The Washington Post, "SEC to require admissions of guilt in some settlements," Dina ElBoghdady, June 18, 2013

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