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27 Nov 23

An Overview of White Collar Crimes in New Jersey

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Last Updated on: 6th December 2023, 10:58 pm

An Overview of White Collar Crimes in New Jersey

White collar crimes — they may sound fancy, but make no mistake; they can land you in just as much legal hot water as any other criminal charge in New Jersey. From fraud to embezzlement to money laundering, white collar crimes encompass a range of non-violent offenses motivated by financial gain.

And while the name may conjure images of Wall Street bankers gone rogue, the truth is that anyone from a CEO to an office admin could potentially face white collar charges. So what exactly constitutes a white collar crime in the Garden State? And what penalties do these offenses carry? Let’s take a closer look.

What Qualifies as a White Collar Crime in NJ

New Jersey statute defines a pretty broad range of offenses under the white collar crime umbrella. Some of the most common include:

Fraud

This covers making intentionally false representations to secure unfair or unlawful gain. Specific types of fraud charges seen frequently in NJ include check fraud, credit card fraud, insurance fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud, and more. Mortgage fraud and tax fraud also fall under this umbrella.

Embezzlement

This refers to stealing money or property entrusted to your care. For example, an employee skimming money from the company expense account or an accountant stealing funds from a client trust account could both face embezzlement charges.

Money laundering

Money laundering involves concealing the source of illegally obtained money by filtering it through legitimate businesses and investments. This allows criminals to hide assets and make dirty money appear clean.

Bribery

Bribery refers to offering, giving, soliciting, or receiving something of value (like cash or gifts) in order to influence official decision-making. This includes both commercial bribery (bribing clients or contractors) and public sector bribery like bribing government officials.

Extortion

Extortion involves threatening or intimidating someone in order to obtain money, property, or services from them against their will.

Forgery

Forgery means falsifying a document, signature, banknote, or other writing with the intent to defraud. Common targets include checks, contracts, identification documents, licenses, certificates, trademarks, and more.

Identity theft

Identity theft is using someone else’s personal information (like their name, account numbers, or Social Security number) in order to impersonate them and commit fraud.

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Insider trading

Insider trading refers to buying or selling stocks based on non-public information that could impact a company’s share price once it becomes known. It’s illegal because it gives insiders an unfair investing advantage.

Racketeering

Racketeering involves participating in or operating an ongoing criminal enterprise or organization. It often includes patterns of illegal activity like intimidation, bribery, money laundering, loan sharking, or embezzlement.

Penalties for White Collar Crimes in New Jersey

The penalties for white collar crime charges depend on the specific offense and circumstances involved. But in general, many white collar crimes in New Jersey are considered second or third degree felonies.

Second degree crimes carry penalties of 5-10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000. Third degree felonies mean 3-5 years behind bars and fines up to $15,000. First degree charges ratchet things up to 10-20 years imprisonment and fines up to $200,000.

In addition to incarceration and fines, those found guilty often face probation, community service, mandatory counseling, and restitution payments to victims impacted by the crimes. Certain white collar offenses may also trigger asset forfeiture, requiring relinquishing property connected with criminal activity.

And for many licensed professionals like investment advisors, CPAs, attorneys, real estate brokers, and nurses, a white collar conviction also threatens their livelihood. They run the risk of losing professional licenses and certifications — sometimes permanently.

Unique Aspects of White Collar Prosecution in NJ

Attorney General Directives

In New Jersey, the Attorney General’s office issues binding directives that shape how white collar crimes get investigated and prosecuted across the state.

For instance, Directive 2020-5 announced the creation of a new Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA). This consolidated state and county prosecutors handling corruption and fraud cases for more efficient, uniform enforcement.

Meanwhile, Directive 2021-4 mandated implicit bias and diversity training for all state investigators and prosecutors. This aims to address potential racial disparities in areas like white collar crime enforcement.

Corporate Criminal Liability

Under New Jersey statute, corporations and other business entities can face criminal liability for white collar offenses committed by employees and agents. This exposes companies to heavy fines, penalties, consent decrees, and mandated compliance reforms.

However, companies can raise certain defenses around lack of responsibility for rogue employees, adequate existing compliance programs, and self-reporting violations promptly. Experienced white collar defense attorneys well-versed in corporate liability principles become invaluable here.

Task Forces & Multi-Agency Efforts

Given the complexity of many white collar cases involving reams of financial records, New Jersey prosecutors often collaborate with agencies like the IRS, FBI, Postal Inspectors, SEC, and more.

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The state also participates in joint federal-state anti-fraud and corruption task forces like the New Jersey Healthcare Fraud Task Force. These coordinate investigations and prosecutions across different levels of government.

Finding the Right White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney

Facing white collar charges in New Jersey means navigating a tricky intersection of state statutes, Attorney General directives, potential federal charges, and more. It demands an attorney well-versed in both white collar crime specifically as well as the unique local landscape.

The good news? New Jersey offers no shortage of seasoned white collar defense lawyers ready to protect your rights. Look for attorneys and firms with specific experience handling your type of alleged offense. This niche expertise — whether in securities cases, government corruption, corporate fraud or another area — can make all the difference.

Of course, the rapport between client and attorney also proves critical when your reputation, livelihood, and freedom hang in the balance. So take the time to research and consult with multiple defense lawyers before deciding on representation. Schedule initial consultations, ask questions, and make sure you feel fully comfortable with both their experience and their approach.

With an experienced white collar crime lawyer in your corner — one who knows New Jersey courts and prosecutors inside out — you can tackle charges with far greater confidence. So don’t hesitate to explore your defense options and enlist an advocate ready to aggressively defend your rights at every turn. The sooner you reach out for help, the sooner you can start building your strongest case.