What is a White-Collar Crime?
White collar crime is a broad definition that generally refers to nonviolent financial crimes committed by professionals. White collar crimes can be prosecuted on both the State and Federal levels.
What types of White-Collar Crimes are there?
- Corporate Fraud
- Bankruptcy Fraud
- Healthcare Fraud
- Mortgage Fraud
- Wire Fraud
- Mail Fraud
- Ponzi Schemes
- Money Laundering
- Wage Theft
- Insider Trading
- Tax Evasion
- Copyright Infringement
- Public Corruption
What are the possible punishments for White Collar Crimes?
The possible punishments for White Collar Crime range from probation to incarceration. Other common sentencing possibilities include fines, restitution, disgorgement, and community service. Generally, the greater the amount of loss (amount alleged to have been stolen), the longer the prison sentence a person is facing.
How much jail time are you facing for a White-Collar Crime?
It depends on whether you are charged with a White-Collar Crime at the State level or the Federal level. This distinction is very important because the sentencing guidelines between the State of Florida and the Federal Government are very different. However, this is not the only factor that is determinative of any sentence. It also depends on the White-Collar Crime that you are charged with, as different crimes have different sentencing levels. Lastly, the amount of loss (amount alleged to have been stolen) is an important factor under the sentencing guidelines.
An experienced White-Collar Crime Defense Lawyer can navigate these complex sentencing issues. It's important to keep in mind that the sentencing guidelines are just as their name implies—guidelines. This means that they are not mandatory minimum sentences. Every case is unique and different and must be treated as such.
What if you can pay back the money that was stolen? What if you can pay restitution?
This is a very important and useful piece of leverage in defending any White-Collar Crime. The money that was stolen is referred to as restitution. Usually the victim in any crime wants to be made whole and paid back the restitution on a case. The longer the time that a person is incarcerated means the chances that the person can pay back restitution is decreased. Being able to pay restitution is not a defense to a White-Collar Crime, but it can be a very important mitigating factor. If used correctly, a White-Collar Crime Defense attorney can use this as part of a defense strategy to successfully resolve your case.
Does it matter if you have no prior criminal record when you are charged with White Collar Crime?
Yes, it is a very important factor. This is not a defense to a White-Collar Crime, but it is a mitigating factor. A law-abiding citizen with no prior criminal record does not just wake up one day and decide to commit a crime. It is only logical that there are a lot of external pressures that would lead a law-abiding citizen to commit a White-Collar Crime. A skilled and experienced White-Collar Crime Defense attorney can use a lack of prior criminal history to achieve a successful outcome in your case.
What are the defenses to White Collar Crime?
The defense that are available to you depend on the White-Collar Crime that you are charged with along with the facts of your case. However, some of the general defense include:
- Lack of Intent – In any crime, the government has the burden to prove that a person acted with criminal intent. The government can prove criminal intent by direct evidence (a confession) or indirect evidence (other behavior). If there is no criminal intent, then there is no crime.
- Lack of Knowledge – In any crime, the government has the burden to prove that a person had knowledge of the criminal activity. Many White-Collar Crime cases are extremely complex and involve multiple parties working at companies. It can be difficult to decipher what employees at the company had knowledge of criminal activity.
- Entrapment – This is when law enforcement induces a person into committing criminal activity that they otherwise would not engage in. This defense can be used when there is either an undercover officer or an informant working for law enforcement that induce people to engage in criminal activity.
- Duress or Coercion – This is when a person engages in criminal activity as a result of threats or force from another.
What should you do if your business is being investigated?
This is a common question that we get asked regularly, and our response is always to protect yourself and your business. You can to this by hiring an experienced White-Collar Crime lawyer. The worst thing you can do is to bury your head in the sand. A lawyer can consult with you and advise you whether to cooperate with law enforcement, whether to issue a statement, whether to answer questions, or whether to produce documents or records without a subpoena or warrant. In some circumstances, a lawyer can issue a statement on your behalf so that there is no statement that can be used against you.
Should you provide a statement? Should you answer the police's questions?
Generally, you should not provide a statement or answer the police's questions. The best thing that you can say is to speak to my attorney. This shields you and puts you in the best place going forward when mounting a defense to any White-Collar Crime. It is a common misconception that you have not done anything wrong that you should speak to the police. However, it is not that simple. First, you are at an unfair advantage when you speak to the police. They are legally allowed to lie to you to induce you into making a statement, but if you lie to them then you can be charged with a crime. Second, it the police have enough evidence to make an arrest, then you are not going to talk your way out of it, so you should not try. Third, if you provide a statement to the police, there is always a chance that your own words will be twisted and used against you. Lastly, when you invoke your right to counsel a jury is not allowed to hear that you invoked your right to counsel because it is your constitutional right.
What should you look for when hiring a White-Collar Defense Lawyer?
The most important factor to look for is experience. This includes if the White-Collar Crime Lawyer has trial experience and if they are a former prosecutor. It is a red flag if the lawyer cannot provide you a background on their professional experience.
How much does it cost to hire a White-Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer?
There are a lot of variables that go into determining legal fees for White-Collar crimes. These include the actual charges, whether the prosecution is at the state or federal level, the volume of documents and discovery, etc. You should consult an attorney in person regarding your case to determine the amount of legal fees involved. Without a consultation, a lawyer will have no idea about your case or the amount of work your case will require. Be wary of any lawyer looking to quote a legal fee without taking the time to learn more about details of your case. We offer free strategy sessions with potential clients to learn about the issues in their case and how we can best help them. Call us to see how we can help.