Know That, As A Whistleblower, You Could Face Criminal Prosecution
We’ve discussed the importance of whistleblower lawsuits before – especially when it comes to highlighting misconduct in the criminal justice system – as well as ensuring that whistleblowers are protected against retaliation. Unfortunately, most people are not prepared for the potential legal repercussions that can occur when they expose misconduct within the government or an organization, including being potentially accused of a crime as a result of coming forward.
Specifically, it is important that you have legal protection in the form of an attorney before you engage in whistleblowing in order to ensure that you are protected while doing so. Know that – while more and more whistleblowers may be protected from being fired – they are, in fact, increasingly the target of criminal investigations; arguably to get around laws against retaliation.
What Has Happened to Others?
Take, for example, previous whistleblowers who have highlighted bank fraud and individuals hiding bank accounts in offshore accounts in order to evade paying taxes: While some of these individuals have eventually been rewarded for coming forward, some have also been initially prosecuted and convicted for such crimes as conspiracy, and in doing so, sentenced to prison. They then have to spend years fighting these charges and rebuilding their lives after trying to do the right thing.
Know Your Rights: Confidentiality & Anonymity
Instead, if you are coming forward with sensitive information that could result in you being accused of a felony or another crime, you want to ensure that you first secure guaranteed confidentiality. Otherwise, you could end up fighting for your own freedom for years as a result of trying to do the right thing. You also want to make sure that you are aware of your rights in general, such as the right to be anonymous (in addition to confidentiality). If you are not aware before coming forward, you can lose that right immediately.
More Is Needed
There is no question that whistleblowers need more protection than they currently have, especially in the current administration. While some politicians have held hearings to discuss legislation that would add protections – especially for certain government workers – unfortunately, nothing appears to be close to being passed.
Contact Our Florida Civil Rights & Criminal Defense Attorneys for Protection
Until it becomes illegal for agency investigatory bodies to conduct investigations into whistleblowers that are protected by the law, and explicit legal protection is provided to whistleblowers if a case goes to court, all whistleblowers should consult with civil rights/criminal defense attorneys who have specific experience in working with whistleblowers before coming forward so as to ensure that they are protected.
If you have concerns as a potential whistleblower, first contact our experienced Miami and Orlando criminal defense attorneys at the Baez Law Firm before you do anything in order to ensure that you proceed with caution and protection.