What is a White Collar Crime?
The term “white-collar crime” conjures up images of corporate sharks in fancy suits as they empty the bank accounts of unsuspecting victims. While it makes for great TV, there’s little truth to it. Someone accused of a white-collar crime is more likely an average person, usually seeking gain through fraud.
These charges can happen to anyone with access to someone else’s finances. This can mean accountants, bookkeepers, financial planners, or someone in charge of handing out company funds. Whatever the case, allegations are serious and convictions can ruin careers and lives.
Your situation may seem grim if you’ve been arrested on white-collar charges, but it’s important to remember that you have rights and these cases require a lot of technical evidence. The prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Plus, there may be defenses and strategies available. Because of the complicated nature of white-collar cases, it’s wise to rely on an experienced criminal fraud defense attorney.
White Collar Crimes – An Overview
White-collar crimes usually focus on financial gain, often through nonviolent, deceitful methods. They typically involve some element of misrepresentation or other misconduct as part of an overall scheme to defraud.
Though the specifics will vary based on the exact offense, the elements that a prosecutor must prove are:
- The accused made a material statement or provided information to another person, knowing it was false;
- Fraudulent statement or information was intended to persuade a victim to give over something of value, such as money, contractual rights, assets, or other items;
- Victim relied on the statement in handing over valuables; and,
- That person would never have done so, knowing the truth of the matter.
Federal White Collar Crimes
By their nature, white-collar offenses often qualify as federal crimes because the misconduct tends to cross state lines through the use of telecommunications networks. By making a phone call, sending an email, faxing documents, or accessing the internet, the accused individual may face federal sentencing for a conviction.
The fines, jail time, and other punishments are much more severe as compared to the laws of most US states. Depending on the specific crime, prior criminal history, number of victims, and other factors listed in the federal sentencing guidelines, punishment may include:
- Fines ranging from $100,000 and up, on a per count basis;
- Imprisonment of up to 30 years or more; and,
- Restitution, which means reimbursing victims for their losses, plus interest.
Types of White Collar Crimes
There are numerous scheme to defraud that would be considered white-collar, usually classified by the type of victim:
Government: Individuals may make false statements in dealing with federal, state, or local government bodies, potentially leading to charges for bankruptcy fraud, tax evasion, health care fraud, and others.
Bank and Financial Institutions: Many crimes in the financial sector include check kiting, money laundering, mortgage fraud, forgery, and counterfeiting.
Insurance Companies: It’s against the law to make false statements to home, auto, business, or other insurers in two contexts:
- Executing documents to purchase a policy; and,
- Making a claim for losses in connection with policy coverage.
Corporations: The most common white-collar crimes in the corporate world are insider trading and embezzlement, where an individual having legal custody of someone else’s property converts it to their own use. An example would be an employer entrusting an employee to deposit some petty cash, but the worker pockets the funds instead.
Private Individuals: Fraud crimes in this category may include identity theft, credit card fraud, bribery, extortion, and Ponzi or pyramid schemes.
Get Legal Help ASAP
White-collar offenses encompass a wide range of activities, and the sentences are harsh. Under the circumstances, you need skilled legal representation to explore all potential strategies for fighting the allegations. With a contact a fraud defense lawyer on your side, it may be possible to obtain a favorable outcome.
At Worgul, Sarna & Ness Criminal Defense Attorneys, we are highly experienced in the technical aspects of these cases and have a long track record of success defending white-collar charges in and around Pittsburgh, PA. Know what you’re up against and how to effectively deal with it.