ChicagoSEC Investigations Criminal Defense Lawyer
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is charged with investigating violations of securities law. The SEC’s Enforcement Division is responsible for initiating an investigation and ultimately makes a final recommendation to the Commission regarding the pursuit of a civil or criminal case. The Enforcement Division works closely with other government agencies, including the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and federal law enforcement to identify and prosecute SEC law violators. If you or your company has become the subject of an SEC investigation, you must act quickly to secure the services of a knowledgeable Federal Criminal Defense Attorney.
What Constitutes a Securities Law Violation?
There are multiple federal laws that govern securities transactions and each of these laws specifies what actions constitute a violation. For example, the Securities Act of 1933 prohibits the use of misrepresentation, fraud or deceit in order to sell securities. The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 regulates the reporting of securities information and it also prohibits certain activities, such as insider trading. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 enhanced the penalties for certain securities law violations and created stricter rules regarding the disclosure of securities information.
Under these and other federal laws, the SEC may choose to launch an investigation for a wide range of suspected violations, including:
- Intentional misrepresentation or omission of securities information
- Attempts to manipulate the market price of securities
- Embezzling funds from customers
- Selling unregistered securities
- Insider trading, which involves the purchase or sale of securities based on information that is not available to the public
- Churning or excessive trading
- Making unsuitable investments
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Breach of contract
- Professional negligence
- Making unauthorized trades
SEC officials work diligently to gather evidence and other information when investigating a possible securities law violation. An investigation can take months to complete and it’s vital that you retain the services of an experienced Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights.
Federal Penalties for Securities Law Violations
Once the Enforcement Division concludes its investigation, it will turn over its findings to the SEC for review. If the SEC determines that you or your company has engaged in any action or behavior that is in violation of securities law, you may face a civil and/or criminal trial, along with administrative sanctions. If a civil action is initiated, the SEC can seek monetary damages in the form of fines as well as the surrender of any illegally obtained profits.
If the SEC decides to pursue administrative action, the possible penalties include censure, suspension or revocation of your broker-dealer or investment advisor registration and a being barred from any further association with the securities and trade industry. Finally, should the SEC also choose to pursue criminal charges, you may face substantial fines as well as possible prison time. Violations of securities law may be punishable by up to 20 years in prison and you may face additional time if you’re convicted of other charges, such as mail or wire fraud and conspiracy.
SEC Investigations Defense Attorney in Chicago
SEC investigations are a serious matter and a conviction for securities law violation can have long-lasting financial, professional and personal consequences. Choosing effective legal representation is the first step in protecting your rights and ensuring the best resolution possible.
Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Schmiege specializes in representing individuals who’ve been charged with SEC violations in both state and federal court. Mr. Schmiege works closely with his clients to develop the strongest defense possible. He uses his extensive knowledge of securities law to fight unfounded charges and minimize the potential damage to your career and your good name. When your freedom and your future are on the line, you need an attorney who is committed to protecting your interests.
If you’ve been charged with a securities law violation in Illinois or in a U.S. federal court, call (312) 906-7800 today to begin a free initial assessment of your case.