White-collar crime is criminal acts that are financially motivated, nonviolent crime and is committed by business and government professionals. First coined in 1939 as a crime committed by a person or persons of respectability and social status white-collar crimes typically include the types of crimes described. White collar defense lawyers are very busy these days. The proliferation of computer and cyber crimes has led to changes in the structure of justice departments. Increased paranoia has led to sweeping arrests, and the changes in the law in regards to the penalties for this type of crime have become exponentially more severe. The need for criminal attorneys who focus on white collar cases is in high demand especially those who have experience defending them on a federal level. Individuals who have been accused with a financial crime, such as fraud in a business or government setting need to hire a competent criminal defense attorney to counter the resolve and resources of the Utah government.
Consequences of white collar crime
Clients can lose their reputation and even their freedom as a result of these crimes because the penalties include fines, restitution, loss of personal property, or a long prison sentence. With many financial crimes, the prosecutor typically seeks enhanced penalties, which will prevent you from obtaining future employment. White collar crime is the terminology used to describe those crimes perpetrated (mostly) in the office or “white collar” environment. Non-violent in nature, they tend to be treated differently by the courts. On one hand the white collar defendant is not accused of doing physical harm in the perpetration of the crime, and therefore when it comes to determining the sentence for such crimes the courts are less likely to put white collar criminals in the same “classification” as those that have committed acts of violence. On the other hand, white collar crimes account for $200 billion in loss each year, a number far higher than that of more “traditional” crimes like burglary or theft. This fact prompts greater scrutiny from law enforcement and justice officials. When you have been accused of a white collar crime such as embezzlement or computer fraud you must respond immediately by hiring an experienced white collar crime lawyer who understands all of the complicated issues, legal and factual, that surround the prosecution of a white collar case.
White Collar Crime Punishment: Prison Sentences and Other Penalties
In many cases, white collar crimes are either category B or Category C felonies. Getting convicted of a white-collar crime can get a person imprisoned from one to twenty years and a fine of up to $100,000. The fine does not include other costs such as restitution, criminal attorneys’ fees and the costs to repair the credit history or ratings that may be destroyed if an individual is charged with identity theft. There is a common misperception that people accused of white-collar crime get light sentences. A felony conviction will stay on your record for a long time and make it difficult to get the desired employment or even a home in Utah. If you are accused of white-collar crimes, you need to make sure to take the charges seriously. You need to be pro-active and hire the best defense team for your criminal case. Any criminal defense attorney worth his or her salt has to be as well-educated in the “how” of crimes like hacking or computer fraud. He or she must be able to understand the mechanics, to know what is necessary in order to defend their client to the fullest. White collar crime lawyer should be as familiar with hacking terms as any member of Anonymous. He or she must be fluent in “cyber-speak” and the methods used by prosecutors at the Department of Justice to translate this to a jury. A white collar defense begins with understanding the offense. An attorney has to be ready for what’s coming at them and that includes anticipating the items that the federal white collar attorneys will have waiting for you during disclosure.
Embezzlement, Bribery, and Bank Fraud
A white collar crimes lawyer will also be prepared to defend your crimes of embezzlement, bribery, and bank fraud. These types of “office” crimes are usually the domains of federal investigators and therefore have to receive the attention of a good white collar defense lawyer who has won cases in the federal jurisdiction, as well as, state. Due to the types of unwanted exposure in these cases it is sometimes possible for a savvy defense attorney to negotiate in special pre-arrest negotiations arrangements that will put you in a better position for crimes of embezzlement. If you are in a situation of self-surrender, call one of white collar lawyers today.
Process of Prosecution of White Collar Crimes
There are a variety of crimes that may be inflicted upon others. Of these, the white collar offenses may be some of the more serious ones committed because they are accomplished by professionals at their places of work with manners of concealment that provide a means of obtaining cash, property, services or advantages in work via illegal manners. While these violations of the law are not usually violent, they may be more devastating when vast sums of money or extensive information has been stolen in one fashion or another. Many of these individuals already have money or prestige among their peers, and little to no suspicion exists that they will perform unlawful actions. These criminal acts may be charged at both the state and federal level. Some courts refuse to try these cases due to the extensive investigations, the sheer volume of information that must be understood and the fact that expert witnesses are needed to explain the data that may be incomprehensible to the judge, jury and lawyers present. While the federal government has more resources for these investigations, many are not tried unless there is some speculation that the prosecution has a fighting chance of winning the trial. Because of this, it is usually the minor crimes that are tried as when someone has completed a major criminal offense, he or she may have covered his or her tracks. In some instances, the offenses implicate that someone else perpetrated them.
A Grand Jury
When certain crimes have been committed, a grand jury is needed. This term means that 16 to 23 persons are tasked with assembling data about the activity that is suspected to be criminal. Testimony from witnesses must be listed to and documents must be examined with an analysis of other evidence as well. When a prosecutor is involved, he or she is a legal advisor for these individuals on the grand jury. The prosecuting person also directs the flow of all witnesses that must explain their information and evidence used in the case. When everything has been processed, this body of persons determines if evidence is sufficient in charging the suspected criminal for the crime presented to them.
Differences in Treatment of Suspects
While the courts attempt to provide equal treatment to all defendants, those that have committed white collar crimes are often not judged as harshly by many involved in the investigation. This could lead to preferential treatment in negotiations for plea bargains, pretrial releases and when sentences occur. However, the difference in treatment is often due to the lack of violence when these crimes occur. Physical assault and battery of anyone are lacking in most cases where a professional has violated the law through interactions with his or her business. Variations of the accused often demand a restriction of movement when the person may be violent or commit further illegal acts when on his or her own recognizance. But, persons that have no history of harming others are often trusted to be out of jail while the trial is ongoing. The only other alteration to this would be if he or she is a flight risk and may leave the state or country while he or she is awaiting a verdict. Those that commit nonviolent crimes are often cooperative with both defending and prosecuting lawyers. They understand the professional world and are calm and friendly during all proceedings in many instances of these cases. When the court has little comprehension of what the crime entails, or if it is unduly complicated, the only possibility for legal action against the accused may lie in a plea bargain. These could be unfairly lenient to ensure some consequences are enacted through a portion of what may be issued against a more violent criminal. The sheer complexity of many of these court issues causes prosecution to be laxer with those that are expert enough to ensure court proceedings are so difficult that they are left with only minor penalties to issue.
When the prosecution has determined the case is worth pursuing, they may attempt to lean towards negotiation where the accused pays back through restitution. This means the perpetrator must provide monetary compensation to the victim for whatever was taken during the crime. Fines may be required as one means of punishment as well. Through the federal Mandatory Victims’ Restitution Act of 1996, the person harmed financially from the offense is entitled to restitution for losses suffered through the direct impact of the defendant’s actions. There are a variety of state and federal laws in addition to this one that demands a criminal to pay the victim back in various manners. That also means that the court could order this restitution if the defending person is sentenced to this remedy upon conviction.
Types of White-Collar Crimes
Most types of white-collar crime tend to involve some type of fraudulent scam or activity. Below are descriptions of common types of white-collar crimes:
• Fraud: Fraud involves deceiving someone for some type of monetary gain. Fraud often centers around financial transactions in a corporate or business setting.
• Securities Fraud: White-collar crimes are most common in a corporate setting that involves securities, stocks, and bonds. One common type of white collar-crime is “insider trading” in which someone who has inside confidential information about the companies’ investments trades or shares that information in violation of their duty to the company.
• Misrepresentation: Another type of securities fraud is when a person knowingly misstates or misrepresents inside information about the companies investments and finances, which causes investors to be lured by the false and misleading information. This causes the investors to rely on that information when making business and financial decisions.
• Embezzlement: This type of white-collar crimes involves a person who has been entrusted legal authority over some type of property or money who then improperly takes that money from that person for his or her financial gain. For example, a manager at a store that embezzles the money entrusted in him by transferring or taking that money and placing it in his own personal account without authorization of the store.
• Tax Evasion: Tax evasion occurs when a person tries to avoid paying the required taxes that they owe to the IRS. Any scheme or activity done knowingly and intentionally to avoid paying taxes is considered tax evasion.
• Money Laundering: Money laundering is a criminal act that is done by taking money that was gained by illegal means and converting it into a series of transactions to make it appear that it was gained legitimately. It is basically taking “dirty” money and filtering it into “clean” money. For example, a drug dealer who makes money illegally who takes that money and filtering into a legitimate business and making it appear like the business made this money, and not the sale of drugs.
• Bribery: This type of criminal act is done by offering money or property with the intention of influencing the actions of another.
• Bankruptcy Fraud: This occurs when a corporation or business lies and misrepresents to creditors who they owe money about the assets and debts that they have in order to avoid paying the creditors’ or having the creditors reach this type of asset.
• Bank Fraud: One of the most common type of white-collar crime is fraud against a bank institution. There can be many different ways to defraud a bank such as using fraudulent checks, commercial loan fraud, mortgage fraud, use and deposit counterfeit money, and other financial misrepresentation upon the bank for a financial gain.
Who Enforces White-Collar Crime Laws?
There are many government enforcement agencies that conduct investigations to determine whether individuals are committing white-collar crimes. Corporations also employ internal investigators, attorneys, or the SEC to investigate to determine whether any directors, management, or individuals in connection with the corporation are committing criminal activities. When the white-collar crimes involve the sale of securities and stocks, the SEC and State Attorney Generals investigate and enforce proceedings against individuals who are suspected to commit insider trading. Many corporations have regular internal investigations and audits to investigate a wide variety of alleged wrongdoing.
What Elements Are Required to Prove White Collar Crimes?
The elements required to prove that a white-collar crime was committed is the following:
• Intent: To commit a wrongful act or to achieve a purpose that is inconsistent with the law or public safety with the intent that the purpose is achieved. This usually occurs when the defendant acts or commits a behavior with the knowledge that the act is unlawful and can be publishable by law.
• Disguise and Concealment: The hiding or concealing of the real purpose of the crime. This usually occurs when the defendant hides or conceals his criminal violation with the purpose of not getting caught.
• Knowledge: For a defendant to be liable for a white-collar crime, the defendant must have knowledge that he is committing the crime. This usually occurs when the defendant knowingly and intentionally commits the act to gain a financial advantage.
• Reliance: Reliance occurs when the victim or plaintiff relied on the defendant’s fraudulent scheme or act.
One of the main defenses for a white-collar crime is the absence of intent. Since all white-collar crimes require the defendant to commit the criminal scheme or activity with knowledge and intent that the crime is being committed in motivation of a financial gain, if a defendant did not intend to do the crime, the defendant may not be held liable. The following are common defenses used for a white-collar charge:
• Absence of Intent: The defendant did not have intent to commit the crime or the activity that was carried out by the defendant was not intentionally done for a personal and financial gain.
• Entrapment: Entrapment occurs when the defendant did not have intent to commit the white-collar crime, but law enforcement officials coerced criminal activity.
The penalties for a white-collar crime depend of the nature and degree of the offense and whether the crime was against state law or federal law. Penalties for white-collar crimes can be harsh and severe since some of the crimes are against federal law. The punishments for white-collar crimes may include:
• Fines and restitution
• Community service
• Disgorge of any profits and financial gain received from the crime
• Home detention with a supervised release
Some state and federal crimes allow the defendant to receive a lower penalty if the defendant cooperates with prosecution by taking responsibility of the crime and assisting the authorities in their investigation.
Seeking Legal Help
White-collar crime can have serious criminal and financial consequences for you, your business, and your family. If you have been convicted of a white-collar crime, a criminal defense attorney with experience in this field can evaluate your case and determine whether there are any possible defenses that are available to you.
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