White collar crime broadly refers to non-violent illegal activity involving money, businesses, or corporate dealings. It is sometimes called financial crime or economic crime. While the term “white collar” is used because it is often associated with professionals and office workers, anyone of any occupation can be involved in a white-collar criminal case.
Because most white collar offenses are non-violent, there is a common notion that they are not serious crimes. Like most crimes, however, white collar offenses range from misdemeanors to felonies, with corresponding penalties. Some of these offenses may be punished with years of imprisonment and hefty fines. A conviction can also have a serious long-term impact on one’s career and finances.
If you have been accused of or charged with a white collar crime, it is crucial to get legal protection as soon as possible. In Texas, contact defense attorney George R. Milner III right away. He has successfully handled scores of white collar cases in Texas state and federal courts.
Types/Examples Of White Collar Crime
A wide range of criminal offenses are considered white collar. Common examples are:
- Fraud, including:
- Check or bank fraud
- Corporate fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Healthcare fraud
- Insurance fraud
- Internet fraud
- Mail fraud
- Securities fraud
- Tax fraud
- Tax evasion
- Ponzi schemes/Pyramid scams
- Identity theft
- Money laundering
- Hacking and similar cybercrimes
- Racketeering/RICO crimes.
Penalties And Consequences Of White Collar Crimes
White collar cases are often under the jurisdiction of the federal government, but the State of Texas is also authorized to prosecute some cases. Depending on the classification of the offense (misdemeanor or felony), white collar crime is punishable with:
- Fines – typically ranging from $500 to $200,000 in Texas, but can climb to millions of dollars for large-scale or high-profile crimes
- Disgorgement –returning of any criminally-obtained assets
- Forfeiture – the government’s seizure of assets connected to crime
- Restitution – repaying victims who suffered monetary loss
- Home detention – some jail sentences may be served at home under strict conditions
- Imprisonment – can be as long as a life sentence.
Apart from these legal penalties, there are social and economic consequences of a white collar criminal conviction. Convicted professionals often face job suspension or termination, and could lose their professional license. Because white collar cases usually involve deceit and dishonesty, convicted workers may find it extremely difficult to get hired elsewhere or find clients. This same difficulty may hinder their loan applications, home purchases, business deals, and the like.
A white collar conviction also goes into a person’s criminal record. It will show up in background checks, and for individuals who are not US citizens, it can cause problems with their immigration status.
Why You Need Immediate Legal Protection
A white collar criminal charge is unique because it almost always comes after authorities have conducted an extensive investigation. Agencies such as the FBI, IRS, and SEC commonly spend years tracing documents and interviewing witnesses before charging anyone. By the time you are charged, the prosecution may already have built an airtight case against you.
In addition, it is easy to incriminate yourself in a white collar investigation. Many people have implicated themselves in financial crimes due to inadvertent statements, innocent mistakes, or even just unwittingly working with suspected individuals.
In short, being charged with a white collar offense immediately puts you at risk. A defense attorney should be taken on early on in the case, even before getting charged. It is a good idea to engage or consult an attorney as soon as law enforcement contacts you. An agency may entice you into talking by saying that you are being interviewed as a “subject” and not as a “target” of an investigation. While you may want to be cooperative, your words, actions, and associations could criminally expose you.
Defenses In A White Collar Criminal Case
Each white collar crime has specific elements that the prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubt – otherwise, the defendant cannot be convicted. A good defense lawyer is thoroughly familiar with these elements and is prepared to weaken the prosecution’s arguments or outright disprove them.
These are some common defenses a white collar lawyer might use:
- Lack of knowledge or intent – most white collar crimes require the element of intent (that you knowledgeably and intentionally committed the violation)
- Mistake of fact – you honestly and reasonably had a mistaken understanding of the facts or situation
- Duress – you were coerced, forced, or threatened into committing or participating in the act
- Entrapment – law enforcement convinced you to commit an act you would not have done otherwise
- Incapacity – you could not have committed the crime due to your mental or physical state at the time.
Bear in mind that prosecutors may likely have gathered years’ worth of evidence by the time you are charged with a white collar crime. Your defense should then be strategic and thorough. Discuss with an experienced white collar lawyer about your best options.
Call George R. Milner III – Experienced White Collar Defense Attorney
In his three decades of legal practice, attorney George R. Milner III has effectively defended Texas individuals in some of the state’s most complex white collar cases. His work has resulted in dismissals, significantly minimized sentences, and Not Guilty verdicts for his clients, both in state and federal courts. See how Mr. Milner can help you.