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When Two Different Proceedings Are Initiated For The Same Case


Having to deal with one investigation is difficult; having to deal with two parallel investigations is mission impossible. Parallel criminal investigation refers to those cases where two different proceedings are initiated for the same case, one by the civil agency and the other by the state institutions. Although the name “parallel” would imply that these investigations started at the same time, this is not usually the case.

In most cases the civil agency is the one that initiates the proceeding first and refers to civil cases dealing with infringements of constitutional rights where the plaintiff files a dispute against another civilian or institution. Although these cases are often resolved through mediation they can attract the attention of the government.

If the government finds these cases interesting enough and feels there is more to it, then they can start their own investigation. Since it is the government that initiates a proceeding against an individual or institution the proceeding becomes a criminal case. Some see the government prosecutors as vultures waiting for the civil agencies to do their dirty work so they can come at the end and collect all evidence relevant for their case.

When it becomes a case within a case

The criminal authorities can request access to every testimony, interview, document, expert’s opinion and all evidence that were presented during the civil proceeding. If both the civil and the criminal case overlap at some point, then the civil agencies can also ask to use the information that were presented to the grand jury for the criminal case. At times the civil agencies and the criminal prosecutors work together and coordinate their actions in order to resolve the case as soon as possible.

If a company is under civil investigation they can look for any hints that might be pointing out to the possibility of criminal investigation. The management of the company needs to have a certain protocol in place if such possibility exists and to know how to respond in the given situation. On one hand asking the civil agency directly whether a criminal investigation is ongoing can be counterproductive or even suspicions.  On the other hand, being completely numb about it can mean that the company is trying to hide something and is keeping low in the hope that the investigation will not be able to discover the truth.

Maybe the best approach is to be as open as much as possible and cooperate with both the civil and government institutions about the case. If the company provides all information requested by the civil agency in timely manner, then it might be able to keep the government institutions away. Another good idea is to make an internal investigation and to deal with those employees who are most likely to cause problems. However, every intervention must be done very carefully and subtle, as it might be interpreted as an attempt to silence the employees and that can prove to be devastating for the future of the company.