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The college admission scandal and a risky defense strategy

The college admission scandal has captured the attention of most of the country because it offers a glimpse into a world of privilege gone awry. Now, the defense strategy of some of the parents involved may be once again turning to privilege -- but that's a risky maneuver that could backfire.

What happened?

Essentially, a well-connected college admissions "consultant" arranged to rig college admission tests for some of the children of parents who could afford to pay. In other cases, he paid off coaches at elite universities to "recruit" students into the school -- even if the student involved wasn't athletic. In some cases, he did both.

The parents involved in the scandal come from the upper echelons of society and are all well-known in their fields. Some famous people have even been snared in the ensuing legal drama, like actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. All of them have damaged their reputations and incurred massive legal costs. Many have also suffered profound professional losses, as well, for their abuse of privilege.

What's happening now?

Since admitting guilt, some of those parents are yet again trying to use their privilege and wealth. This time, they hope to mitigate their sentences. For example, one father argued that he should be allowed to design and operate a community service project that would benefit the Special Olympics in lieu of jail. Others have hired high-priced criminologists to provide the judge with evidence that they were extraordinarily susceptible to criminal pressure.

The judge in the case has called such overtures from these defendants "about as tone-deaf as I've heard."

What should you keep in mind?

It's perfectly normal for a defense attorney to present mitigating evidence to a judge in a white collar criminal case. Anything that might cause the judge to grant a convicted defendant a little leniency can be valuable. However, in a case that is largely about privilege, legal experts suggest that it is wise to be cautious about displaying that sense of privilege any further.

Cases like this illustrate the importance of getting experienced advice and a critical take on your defense strategy. If you're in legal trouble and facing white collar charges, find out more about your options today.

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