White Collar Crimes: What Do I Need to Know?
White-collar crimes are the non-violent crimes that encompass a wide range of criminal acts, including fraud, identity theft, insider trading, and more. They are typically done by businesses and even government officials. Regardless, they all involve some form of deceit or violation of trust, but there is no physical threat of violence against the victims.
White Collar Crimes Is Not an Actual Crime, but a Category of Crimes
White-collar crime is not charged against someone as the name itself. Instead, this is a category of crimes committed by professionals through their line of employment. Due to the standing of that person in society, they are referred to as white-collar crimes because people that commit these crimes are usually tax accountants, CEOs, money managers, financial planners, bankers, and others in highly professional fields.
What Happens If You Are Being Prosecuted for White Collar Crimes?
If you have been charged with a white-collar crime, the process is not too different than that of any other criminal act. However, there are a few different steps that the prosecutor takes to start the process.
You may be charged at the state or federal level, depending on the crime. There are some state courts that will not try these types of cases due to the investigation and process, and most states do not have the resources available to try a white-collar crime case properly. That is why, more often than not, a person accused of committing one of these crimes faces federal charges.
The federal government has a bigger budget for trying these cases, and they have a higher chance of winning at trial because they have numerous investigatory agencies at their disposal (i.e., the FBI).
The Grand Jury Process
Typically, the prosecutor will need to go through the grand jury process. In a grand jury proceeding, they will assemble a group of jurors who are only there to allow the prosecutor to move forward with the case by receiving an indictment. The standard of proof is low in a grand jury proceeding because the prosecutor is not trying the case itself; instead, they are just showing they have enough reason to arrest, charge, and prosecute you for the alleged crime.
During these hearings, which last a few days, the grand jurors (who will never appear in the actual trial) must listen to witness testimony, read documents, and hear evidence against you. The prosecutor is also there to answer questions in an open forum style, and they can also direct witness testimony, because there is no judge overseeing the process.
If the grand jury feels there is enough evidence to charge you with a white-collar crime, then they will grant the indictment and the prosecutor will move forward.
The Differences in the Arrest Process
While you are under investigation, and even during the grand jury process, you are not arrested, usually. Also, you may notice that those charged with white-collar crimes are not treated the same as those who cause physical harm to their victims. Courts are more lenient, and even prosecutors will work toward finding common ground in a plea bargain.
More often than not, the prosecutor and defense team are cordial to one another, friendly, and calm. These proceedings rarely get heated like a criminal case, and both sides are looking for an outcome that works best for each rather than “winning” against the other side.
If the prosecutor does have their indictment, you will be arrested, but most likely you will be allowed out on bail because you are not a threat to society. Therefore, rarely would a judge hold someone in jail for a white-collar crime.
If Convicted, Expect to Pay Restitution on Top of the Prison Sentence
Depending on the white-collar crime you are accused of, you can almost always expect to pay restitution in your case. The prosecutor might work to negotiate favorable jail sentences (and sometimes no jail at all), but they will also want monetary compensation for the victims of your alleged crime. You may also be required to pay fines from the federal law known as the Mandatory Victims’ Restitution Act of 1996. In this law, you are required to pay back victims for their financial losses and with some penalty.
Your Assets Will Be Seized and Forfeited
Even if you do not step a foot inside a jail cell, you will have your assets frozen and seized by the government. These may be used to pay back victims, and any assets obtained using fraudulent funds that stemmed from your criminal act will be seized regardless. Asset forfeitures, including freezing all access to personal bank accounts, will block you from accessing money – even if that money was not from criminal acts.
You Have Defense Strategies
No matter what, a white-collar crime provides defendants with options. Yes, the prosecution will be willing to make a favorable plea deal, but you may also have a defense strategy that wins the case entirely. The sheer complexity of these cases makes it too expensive for both sides, which means they are willing to work with one another for an equitable solution.
Furthermore, some prosecutors cannot further their investigations, or with numerous motions, could lose their evidence in court. Even if they succeed with an indictment, the evidence used in that grand jury courtroom may be thrown out in the actual criminal courtroom – leaving them with no option to continue forward.
Your attorney has plenty of options at their disposal to fight against these charges, and they could reach a better outcome than just negotiating with the prosecution yourself. Because you are likely facing federal charges, it is in your best interest to have an attorney who has experience with white-collar criminal defense. They know the prosecutors, the judges, and they know how to work the system to get the best possible outcome. Also, you may not even be the guilty party. Often with white-collar crimes, there is one guilty party, but their actions implicate another innocent party.
Now is the time to act. If you have been arrested or indicted for a white-collar crime, you need representation. The team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices can help you with your case. We have handled both state and federal prosecutions, and we know what it takes to succeed in these types of cases.
Call us now to schedule a free case evaluation. The sooner you act, the easier it may be to get the outcome you want.