Practice Areas

White Collar Criminal Defense

Effective representation in a criminal investigation or prosecution requires not only knowledge of criminal statutes and rules, but experience with the offices and agencies that enforce them. Through decades of experience, our lawyers know the rules, both written and unwritten, of how to properly advocate for our clients and get the best results possible. We have negotiated resolution of issues under investigation and, in many instances, have convinced prosecuting agencies to not file charges. State and federal prosecutors know us and respect us, which gives us an edge in obtaining the best possible results in lobbying a prosecuting agency to not file charges. Our lawyers understand that the best result for the client is to avoid any prosecution, and our significant government experience helps our clients navigate the challenging and sometimes frightening process of investigation. However, hand-in-hand with this ability is the reputation that we enjoy as first-rate trial lawyers who can make the difference in a bet-the-company type of case.

Because of complex government regulations, we commonly see civil cases that have significant criminal implications. Criminal matters now proceed in parallel with civil investigations, and this cross fertilization often results in maximizing the economic exposure of companies. A client is well-advised to have a multi-dimensional, coordinated approach to parallel proceedings and to employ lawyers who have considerable experience in representing companies and their high-level employees in connection with government investigations.

Both federal and state governments have become increasingly aggressive in investigating cases and filing charges. Increasingly, we see situations treated as criminal in nature when, in the past, they have been treated as civil disputes. Such aggressiveness poses particular risks to businesses that are subject to private or government audits and regulatory investigations. Not only have these types of cases intensified, but they have also become more complex. Indeed, at times, companies are now threatened with “economic capital punishment”—their very survival entirely dependent on successful interaction with government authorities.

The White Collar Criminal Defense and Corporate Integrity practice group at Hobson Bernardino + Davis is chaired by Stanley L. Friedman who, as an Assistant United States Attorney, was assigned to the Major Frauds Unit, and who personally investigated and prosecuted hundreds of cases on behalf of the United States Government.

As a federal prosecutor, Mr. Friedman’s practice ran the entire gamut of criminal work, from conducting Grand Jury investigations, through trial and appeal, involving a variety of white collar criminal cases, including ones involving: Bank Fraud; Savings and Loan Fraud; Bankruptcy Fraud; Health Care Fraud; Customs violations; Insurance Fraud; Securities Fraud; Commodities Fraud; Investment Fraud (including Ponzi schemes, boiler rooms and telemarketing schemes); Embezzlement; Tax Crimes; Theft from ERISA Plans; Theft from Non-ERISA Pension Plans; Money Laundering; Credit Card Fraud; Counterfeiting of U.S. Currency and Securities, and; Advance Fee Schemes. As part of his duties, he was also appointed a magistrate for the governments of France and Hong Kong and conducted investigations on their behalf. For his work in spearheading a nationwide investigation and prosecution conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Department of Transportation and the Interstate Commerce Commission, which resulted in the convictions at trial of all defendants on all counts, he was given a commendation by a Congressional Commission.

Prior to his service as a federal prosecutor, Mr. Friedman clerked for The Honorable William P. Gray, United States District Court Judge for the Central District of California, and worked on high-profile tax, antitrust and organized crime cases.

Mr. Friedman has been certified by the Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California as a certified specialist in criminal law. From 2006 to 2010, Mr. Friedman served on the State Bar of California Criminal Law Advisory Commission, which is the Commission responsible for all aspects of certifying and re-certifying attorneys as criminal law specialists, and served as its Chairman for the 2009 – 2010 term. Previously, he served as the Commission’s Vice Chairman and education representative in which he reviewed all materials submitted by providers throughout the State who sought to have their programs certified for continuing legal education credits for certified specialists in criminal law. Also, in the 2009 – 2010 term, Mr. Friedman was a member of the Rules Subcommittee of the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings, a highly rated lawyer evaluation organization, rates Mr. Friedman as “AV – Preeminent,” which is reserved for lawyers at the highest level of professional excellence. Similarly, Mr. Friedman has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” by Thomson Reuters®, which reserves such ratings for the top 5% of all lawyers and is its highest ranking. American Lawyer Media, a legal publisher, recognizes Mr. Friedman as one of “Southern California’s Top Rated Lawyers.”

Through the years, Mr. Friedman has been counsel of record in many published decisions, in district courts, the California Court of Appeals, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court involving preservation of rights and criminal law issues such as securities fraud, commodities fraud, bankruptcy fraud, social security fraud, gathering evidence in foreign countries and preservation of the attorney-client privilege.

Mr. Friedman has frequently appeared on national and local television and radio and has been quoted extensively in national and local print media. In recent years, Mr. Friedman has represented entertainment and political figures and has additionally advised them in regard to contact with the media and using media contacts to the client’s benefit.

Included in the practice group is founding partner Rafael Bernardino, Jr. who was appointed to the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners by Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa. In that capacity, Mr. Bernardino is responsible for reviewing policy decisions and lawsuits involving the LAPD. Mr. Bernardino has an impressive list of prior government positions and posts, including clerking for The Honorable Manuel L. Real, then Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, and Attorney Advisor in the United States Department of Justice Office of Intelligence Policy in Washington, D.C., advising both United States Attorneys General, Edwin Meese and Richard Thornburgh.

The breadth of our White Collar Criminal Defense practice is second to none, and we are both focused and driven to achieve extraordinary results for our clients.

Parallel Proceedings

Occasions arise when an individual faces both civil and criminal liability for the same conduct. These proceedings or investigations may occur at the same time (i.e., parallel in time), or one may precede the other. Before a strategy is chosen, the impact on both types of cases should be considered, since the defending of one case may negatively impact the other. When the cases or investigations occur parallel in time, one of the key issues to consider is whether one should invoke one’s right not to give testimony. The right against self-incrimination, as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, protects a person against being incriminated by his own compelled, testimonial communications.

The protection not only enables an individual to refuse to testify at a criminal trial, but also affords that person the privilege not to answer official questions put to him in any other proceeding, civil or criminal, formal or informal, where the answers might tend to incriminate him in future criminal proceedings. Thus, the Fifth Amendment protections apply to disclosures that the witness reasonably believes could be used against him in a criminal prosecution, or could lead to other evidence that might be so used. For example, a transcript of a witness’ testimony in a related (or, even unrelated) civil case may be used against him in a subsequent criminal prosecution. Although a witness may not use the Fifth Amendment to avoid appearing at a court proceeding, one can invoke the privilege against self-incrimination to avoid incriminating questions on a question-by-question basis.

The attorneys of Hobson Bernardino + Davis are available to consult regarding individuals’ and business entities’ rights and obligations in these often complex parallel proceedings.