Minimizing Prison Terms for Broadcom Executives

By · Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

The national newspapers have been reporting on the criminal prosecutions of the Broadcom founders. I followed the extraordinary rise of that company’s valuation with much admiration for its founders. Now they face criminal charges for white collar crime, and it’s a tragedy that they may serve time in federal prison for charges related to options backdating.

Both of these defendants have deep financial resources. They certainly have top-drawer legal talent. Yet the more litigious their approach, the stiffer the sentences they will draw. I have learned form numerous high-profile defendants who had ample access to financial resources. Without exception, each of them expressed regret that they did not structure a plea agreement earlier in the criminal justice process. As a consequence of hardball legal tactics, they served longer sentences.

Although it is always difficult to accept responsibility and the prison term that follows a guilty plea, sometimes that is the prudent choice. Defendants face a set back with a prison sanction. Yet as I have learned through the stories I’ve written (read the Profiles topical report series), the sanctions are lower for those who plead guilty earliest in the process.

Time in prison certainly presents a challenge, though individuals who embrace it as an opportunity for introspection can find some value in the experience. In my article Master Discipline, Expect Nothing, I offer advice for serving time in prison successfully. All of the articles I write stem from what I have learned as a long-term prisoner. I hope they prove helpful for those who deliberate over whether to plead guilty or proceed through trial and the stiffer sanctions that follow.

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