The Nature Of White Collar Crime
White-collar crime is a term that is usually applied to crimes associated with business that do not involve violence or bodily injury to another person. Examples of so-called white-collar crimes are those crimes generally associated with lending institutions which involve bank fraud, such as making false statements to obtain a loan, filing false reports or returns with government agencies, embezzlement, using the mail or wire communications to defraud, and paying or accepting bribes.
White-collar crimes may be prosecuted in state or federal courts, depending upon whether state or federal laws have been violated. The penalties for committing white-collar crimes vary, but in some cases they may be as severe as those prescribed for violent crimes. If you are questioned by a law enforcement officer or another governmental agent about possible criminal conduct, it is wise to talk with an attorney before answering any questions.
What you tell your attorney is confidential, and the fact that you decline to answer questions may not be used against you in a criminal proceeding.
Three Most Frequently Charged White Collar Crimes:
The act of obtaining money or property by deceit, trick or a dishonest act. Most acts of fraud are felonies. Criminal fraud is commonly perpetrated against the aged and infirm. Fraud commonly involves a misrepresentation of a material fact upon which the victim relies. In most cases, the defense to fraud involves establishing evidence that negates the defendant’s specific intent to defraud. Often fraud involves more then one person involved in the scheme each of which can be held criminally responsible under the theory of joint criminal liability and the crime of conspiracy. Fraud can also be involved in the purchase and sale of securities. The enforcement divisions of the state and the federal government through the SEC have jurisdiction to prosecute defendants that engage in security law violations including fraud.
There are many different types of fraud, including but not limited to forgery, internet fraud, mail fraud, counterfeiting, check fraud, credit card fraud, and wire fraud.
Fraud can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Depending the type of fraud and the criminal history of the defendant, convictions can result in county jail or prison. Sentences vary significantly and often result in multiple years in prison. Federal charges can lead to 15 years or more in federal prison.
The act of obtaining money or gaining some form of personal advantage by threat of force and or intimidation of the victim or the victim’s family. In most cases, the defendant has a preexisting relationship with the victim and is motivated by retribution or greed. In most states, extortion is a felony punishable by up to a 20-years in prison sentence. The punishment for extortion depends on whether force was used in extorting money or other property. This is known as a penalty enhancer and will significantly result in additional punishment.
Embezzlement is among the most common form of white-collar crime. It begins with the entrustment of another’s funds under false pretenses. The methods used to embezzle can vary greatly and can be quite elaborate. Embezzlement includes “Ponzi” schemes of all kinds including but not limited to fraudulent billing, skimming off of payroll accounts, setting up false employee accounts, falsifying financial records, and diverting funds to fabricated vendor accounts. The king of embezzlement in our recent past has been convicted criminal Bernard Madoff.
Other then fines and incarceration, those convicted of embezzlement will also be ordered to make restitution. Restitution is the return of the money or property that was taken by the embezzler and returned to the victim. If the defendant is no longer in possession of the money or property embezzled, the defendant will be ordered by the Court to pay the debt in installments.
Depending on the defendant’s criminal history, severity of the crime and the vulnerability of the victim (such as the elderly which also triggers criminal charges under Financial Elder Abuse laws) courts will usually impose a period of incarceration, fines, followed by probation that does not terminate until the defendant has made full restitution to the victim.