Internal investigations: How they work and impact employees

If a company suspects misconduct on the part of an employee, the company may decide to conduct a corporate internal investigation. An internal investigation looks at many different facets of the company to determine if there are criminal acts taking place.

Internal investigations are usually launched quickly after a complaint is received. The investigation may be launched after an accusation of fraud, for example.

How do internal investigations usually proceed?

In addition to considering any related state and federal laws, investigators may look at the company’s code of conduct and other internal policies. These can be used to determine if misconduct or a crime has been committed.

Often companies hire third-party investigators — not company employees — to look into matters of possible fraud.

Depending on the specific circumstances and any resulting legal liabilities, if the company discovers misconduct, the company may decide to turn the suspected party or parties over to authorities or to handle the matter in-house.

What should employees do?

Remember, it’s the investigator’s job to gather evidence. If you believe you may be the subject of such an investigation, you should seek legal guidance and representation as soon as possible. If you find yourself accused, all you need to do is prepare to defend yourself. That means that you have no responsibility to talk to internal investigators, and the same goes for any ensuing criminal investigation.

In many cases, criminal charges can be avoided if a white collar criminal defense lawyer gets involved early in the process.

At Hilder & Associates, we have experience in conducting internal investigations, as well as defending against charges resulting from such investigations. For more on these matters, please see our white collar criminal defense overview.