Can People Ever Succeed After a Criminal Charge?

In my role as director of both White Collar Advice and Prison Professors, I have become a resource. Mostly, my team and I work with defendants that anticipate a journey through the criminal justice system. We also work with the lawyers that represent them.

Yet whenever the criminal justice system comes into the spotlight, media representatives reach out looking for answers. Their readers want to know what will happen when celebrities or wealthy people go into the system.

In March, the Department of Justice announced criminal charges for fraud against more than 50 high-profile individuals. The list of targets included famous celebrities, doctors, lawyers, and business leaders at the highest level.

What did all of those federal defendants have in common?

They were all people. And like all people, they made decisions that later led to regret. In this instance, their decisions led them into the crosshairs of federal prosecutors.

Peter Holley, a reporter from the Washington Post reached out to learn more about what those people could expect as a result of the criminal charges. Mr. Holley learned about our team’s efforts to assist people as they navigate the complexities of a criminal charge. When he learned that we were working with people at the center of the scandal, he and his editors chose to write a story about our work.

Click here to read Washington Post article about our work

The story spread like a gasoline fire, going viral within minutes. Apple News published the Post article as a trending, top-story, making it available on every Apple device. Several million people viewed the story within a couple of hours. On Sunday alone more than 1.5 million people viewed it on their iPhone.

Succeed After a Criminal Charge

Succeed After a Criminal Charge

Dozens of reporters that hailed from all of the major networks reached out for follow-up stories. In addition to print media, I responded to questions on radio interviews for top shows like CNN’s Michael Smerconish and television shows like Inside Edition, CBS News and and CNN.

Each reporter told me that readers not only wanted to know what the people would experience. They also wanted to know whether a person would ever be able to work again after such a scandal such a criminal-charge for fraud.

I responded to reporters with the same level of truth and honesty that we offer to the clients we serve.

As human beings, we often get the outcomes we engineer.

Whether a person is rich, a celebrity, a professional, or a layman, going into the criminal justice system means going into a process-and-procedure driving bureaucracy. Doors will close, making it feel as if someone is going through a labyrinth with no way out.

Although a person cannot change the past, at any time a person can begin to engineer a pathway that influences possibilities for more successful outcomes. Outcome can include an easier journey inside, an earlier release, and a successful rebound after release.

How does it happen?

In our experience, we’ve found that success always follows a pattern. We describe that pattern as having four parts:

1. A person should start by visualizing the best possible outcome.
2. Then a person must work with a team to architect a plan that will lead to the best outcome.
3. Then a person must put priorities in place.
4. Then a person must make a 100% commitment to execute the plan, consulting his or her team to make adjustments along the way.

Anyone can begin laying plans for a more successful journey through struggle. We can see the results in our partner, Shon Hopwood. He went to prison for armed bank robbery. Now he is a prized Washington DC attorney and tenure-track professor at Georgetown Law.

One success story like Shon Hopwood may be anecdotal. But our team at White Collar Advice and Prison Professors has worked with more than 100,000 people that have gone through the system. Our results show that anyone can begin sowing seeds today that will lead to a better outcome tomorrow.

Justin Paperny