What to Do if You’ve Been Accused of an Environmental Crime

What to Do if You’ve Been Accused of an Environmental Crime

With so many environmental protection laws in place and constantly changing, environmental crimes aren’t always easy to avoid. Many people end up with violations, fines, and criminal charges for violating laws like the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Lacey Act, just to name a few.

Many businesses end up violating these acts in some way, and sometimes the consequences hit the public hard. For example, bottled water has been proven to be contaminated with chemicals that make it no better than tap water.

In 2019, the Starkey brand of water owned by Whole Foods and Peñafiel water owned by Keurig Dr. Pepper were both found to contain high levels of arsenic. 

1. Create a plan of action

Being accused of an environmental crime is a shocking and harrowing experience, but it’s worse when you’re either innocent or ignorant of what you’ve done wrong. Either way, and even if you are guilty, it’s important to have a plan to move forward. If you’ve been accused of an environmental crime, here’s how you should proceed to get the best outcome for your case.

2. Seek legal counsel from an attorney

If you’re facing criminal charges for an environmental crime, get an attorney as fast as possible. You’ll need a strong legal defense to fight your charges, and nobody can put together a better case than an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Never attempt to face serious criminal charges alone. Navigating the court system alone without experience is daunting and not recommended. You’ll not only be overwhelmed with having to follow strict procedures, but it can be emotionally taxing as well. That’s not a good combination. When you’re emotionally triggered, it’s harder to stay calm and think critically. Having an attorney to represent you will make the process easier. Your lawyer will handle your entire defense and instruct you on what to do, what not to say, and how to act in the courtroom.

The other issue that arises from not having an attorney is not following court procedures properly. While it is your Constitutional right to defend yourself, you will be held to the same standards and expectations as licensed attorneys. The judge is not obligated to help you file your paperwork or assist you with presenting evidence properly. Chances are, you’ll mess up along the way, and it will hold up your case and frustrate everyone involved.

3. Listen to your attorney

After being accused of a serious environmental crime, it’s imperative that you listen to your attorney. Whether you’re technically at fault or not doesn’t matter. Your attorney will prepare the best possible defense for you to help you get the best case outcome. For example, your attorney will make every effort to get your charges either dropped or reduced, and if you’re found guilty, they will work hard to lessen your sentence by reducing jail time and fines.

Whatever you do, don’t be one of those people who allows themselves to yell at the judge or have any kind of emotional outburst in the courtroom. Listen to your attorney and only speak when they tell you to speak.

4. Be willing to make the required changes

If you’re not sentenced to jail time, and are given orders from the judge to make specific changes to your business practices, be willing to make those changes as fast as possible. For example, if you’ve committed a crime like illegal logging or mining, shut down your operations immediately and follow all orders from the court. Do whatever you have to do to cease your activities immediately.

From there, find a different business to get into that isn’t illegal. Start a legitimate business and build it from the ground up if you have to because it’s not worth getting caught a second time. If you manage to be lucky enough to be let off the hook the first time, you won’t be so lucky if you’re caught a second time.

5. Accept responsibility

In the end, it’s crucial that you accept responsibility for violating the law. Some laws don’t seem fair, and you may not have known you were breaking the law. Either way, accepting responsibility for your actions is essential. Blaming other people, including your own ignorance, will only make you mentally exhausted. You can’t change the past, but you can accept where you are now and rebuild your life moving forward.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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