Exploring How White Collar Crimes are Prosecuted
White collar crimes typically involve fraud, bribery, and other non-violent activities. These types of offenses can include embezzlement, insider trading, computer crime, tax evasion, and money laundering. The white collar criminal prosecution process is complex. Prosecutors must determine whether the accused had the intent to commit the crime. In establishing intent, prosecutors must submit evidence such as deceptive financial practices and documents verifying where funds have gone. If a conviction is rendered, punishments could range from community service or fines to prison time. Individuals charged with a white collar crime may have legal defenses they can use. It is crucial to speak with an attorney about courses of action.
An Overview of White Collar Crimes
White collar crimes are, at their core, crimes of deceit and concealment. Unlike offenses involving force, the primary objective of white collar crimes is to obtain financial gain or material possessions from another person by illegal means.
Unfortunately, white collar crimes can affect not just the intended victim but society – from decimating businesses to wiping out family savings and depriving investors of assets. Consequently, authorities are vigilant and forceful in pursuing those suspected of perpetrating white collar crimes as they realize the severe implications on people's lives and the economy.
Examples of Different White Collar Crimes
White collar crimes are generally financial in nature and typically occur within the business or government sectors.
Examples of white collar crimes include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Health care fraud frequently involves false claims for services not provided, or billing for more expensive treatments than the ones actually given to obtain benefits unlawfully.
- Money laundering involves concealing the source of ill-gotten funds to avoid legal sanctions or taxes, or to continue pursuing criminal activities.
- Securities fraud involves bolstering trade with unallowable access to material, non-public information, also known as insider trading.
- Mail or wire fraud typically uses the U.S. post office or electronic communication to further a scheme to defraud.
- Tax evasion is a willful act of failing to report income, overreporting deductions, or failing to file a claim to evade tax obligations.
These and other white collar crimes have harsh consequences if the alleged offender is convicted.
The Prosecution Process for White Collar Crimes
Prosecuting white collar crimes is an intricate process due to the complexities of the statutes and cases surrounding them. The location and reach of the offense(s) determine where jurisdiction lies.
Generally, if the accused violated state statutes, his or her case will be handled by a county district attorney. Conversely, white collar crimes involving interstate or foreign commerce are federal offenses and are prosecuted by U.S. Attorneys in federal court proceedings.
Due to these crimes' far-reaching impact and potential severity, complex legal strategies are crafted specifically for each case to determine and prove – or disprove – responsibility.
How Prosecutors Establish Intent
Prosecutors work to establish intent in cases of suspected white collar criminal activity. Intent is fundamental for demonstrating that the defendant purposely committed the unlawful act, as force or violence is often not a characteristic of this type of crime.
The level of intent the prosecutor must prove varies from case to case.
Prosecutors often rely on evidence such as the following:
- Meeting notes
- Financial statements
- Business records
- Witness testimonies
Assessing the Potential Conviction Penalties
The possible term of imprisonment and fine amount depend on the case's specifics. For example, federal health care fraud can result in up to 10 years in prison, while mail and wire fraud can incur a sentence lasting up to 20 years.
Possible Legal Defenses Against Allegations of White Collar Crimes
Various legal defenses exist in white-collar crime cases depending on the alleged acts.
One of the possible legal defenses is lack of intent. Intentionally engaging in a crime for personal gain is an element of many white collar crimes. The defendant could make a powerful argument if intent were absent.
Another defense option is entrapment. If someone falls victim to overly coercive or deceptive police tactics, they may have been entrapped into violating laws they otherwise would not have broken.
Finally, plea agreements may be considered, as they may be a way to seek a favorable outcome when the evidence is heavily weighted against the defendant. A plea agreement may lead to lesser charges or a sentence reduction.
Speak to an Attorney About Your Case
Being accused of a white collar crime can be overwhelming, with potentially serious consequences. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can provide invaluable assistance in navigating the complexities of the justice system and crafting an effective legal strategy. They will understand how to effectively utilize available resources and tools within the confines of the law to protect your rights. By examining the various aspects of your case, such as witnesses and evidence, your lawyer can work to cast doubt on the prosecution's allegations.
At Friedman Nemecek & Long, L.L.C., our Ohio lawyers are skilled at fighting white collar crime charges. Schedule a consultation by contacting us.