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White Collar Criminal Defense

May 26, 2020

While many people can agree what does and what doesn’t classify as white collar crime, there isn’t one definition for what white collar crime is. Various organizations often have their own definition of what classifies as “white collar”.

Understanding White Collar Crimes

According to the FBI, white collar crime must meet three criteria:

  • If the illegal act is characterized by concealment, deceit, or the violation of trust.
  • If the illegal act isn’t dependent upon the threat or use of violence or physical force.
  • If the illegal act occurred in order to avoid providing services or losing money, to gain a professional or personal advantage, or to obtain services, property, or money.

Though this definition covers a wide array of offenses, the majority of most prosecutions for white collar crime are for different types of business-related crimes that don’t often involve any physical force or violence. Most white collar crimes are motivated by a desire to increase one’s business assets and obtain financial gain.

Most white collar criminal investigations are conducted by the FBI, the SEC, the U.S. Treasury, or the IRS. Sometimes, these cases involve multiple agencies. Even if there is an ongoing investigation, you may not be suspected of committing the crime. In some cases, your business could be investigated simply because it came up as part of an ongoing trial.

You may also be under investigation for the following reasons:

  • You were subpoenaed for your business records.
  • You were presented with a warrant to obtain certain documents.
  • A government agent contacted you in order to speak to an employee.
  • You received a target letter.

While all of the above don’t indicate that you are under investigation, it is important for you to hire a lawyer nonetheless.

Defenses for White Collar Crime and Allegations of Fraud

If you’ve been accused of committing a white collar crime, it is important that you contact an attorney. While there are many ways to define white collar crime, there are only a few defenses that an attorney can use to ensure that you aren’t convicted, all of which include:

  • Lack of Intent: In order for you to be convicted of a white collar crime for fraud, the prosecution must prove that you intentionally provided false information or deceived the victim on purpose.
  • Non-Fraudulent Statements: This defense can be used in your case if you provided a statement that wasn’t demonstrably true and the victim acted unreasonably when they relied on your statement.
  • Entrapment: The entrapment defense can be used in the event that you were persuaded to commit the crime by a government agent. If your attorney can prove that you wouldn’t have otherwise committed the crime, it is likely that you will not be prosecuted.
  • Duress: This defense can be used if your attorney can prove that you were forced to commit the crime under threat of violence or bodily harm.
  • Intoxication or Incapacity: These defenses can be used in the event that you were incapacitated or intoxicated when the white collar crime occurred.
  • Insanity: This is a valid defense, but likely one that will require a guilty plea. Though you may get a more lenient sentence, there are negative consequences that come with using an insanity defense.

Depending on the type of white collar crime and any previous criminal history, your attorney may be able to negotiate for a lighter sentencing.

If You’re Convicted of White Collar Crime

White collar crimes that are tried in Federal court carry with them serious consequences. If you’re convicted of a white collar crime, you may face the following penalties:

  • Heavy fines
  • Prison sentences
  • Restitution
  • Probation or supervised release
  • Home arrest
  • Forfeiture of assets

As soon as you know that you are under investigation for white collar crime, you should retain a Federal criminal attorney. If you hope to protect yourself, as well as your assets, you need to get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible.

White collar crime is simply non- violent crimes by the slightly more affluent people- those that put on white collar to their workplace. They mostly involve public corruption or fraud; Immigration Fraud, health care fraud, commodities crimes, computer and internet crimes, bankruptcy fraud, Tax Crimes, real estate fraud, and export control act violations. White collar criminal defense is at both the federal and state levels.

White Collar Procedure

The government or court procedure for White collar cases is almost similar to any federal case procedure. If the federal government charges you with a white collar crime, you should find a lawyer before anything else. Your lawyer will help you learn everything that is happening to you, your options and the outcome of each option. Take your time to think, learn and decide. Do not be in a rush to make quick decisions.

Memories tend to fade pretty fast especially when you are under pressure. Take notes of everything that relates to the case. This will keep track of everything that happened and could give you ideas of what’s coming. Be sure to indicate “Attorney-Client Privileged” on every page of your notes. This will offer you attorney-client privilege protections in case anyone from the government lays their hand on the notes. Collect all material that is relevant to the case.

Bankruptcy Fraud

A bankruptcy filing can lead to several criminal charges. Making a false statement on the filing knowingly can lead to bankruptcy fraud accusations. In a majority of bankruptcy fraud cases, the accused was working with a lawyer for her or his bankruptcy filings preparation. The defense in the case therefore mostly starts with checking which attorney helped the accused with the bankruptcy case in order to know if a defense could be provided.

Export Control Charges

In all export control charges, the government should have proof that the accused person exported something illegally, outside the United States. This could either be; things that are illegal to send such as narcotics, sending something to countries the US government prohibits trade with such as North Korea or sending goods unlicensed goods that would otherwise require a license. People convicted with export control offenses may face prison time for as long as 10 years for a single violation

Immigration Fraud

There are various forms of immigration fraud including Using false details on your immigration form, sham marriages for citizenship or giving false information about someone to get into a sponsorship program in the USA. Immigration fraud may qualify as a felony and if convicted, you may be deported and also never allowed to set foot in the United States. You may also serve significant jail time.

Healthcare Fraud

Healthcare fraud may rank as the most common white collar crime in the federal court. The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the Department of Justice are collectively investing resources to investigate and prosecute these cases. Submitting false statements in the bills to Medicare is the most common healthcare fraud. If found guilty, you can either lose the ability to bill any federal healthcare program or go to prison.

Tax Crimes

Be sure to get an experienced lawyer if charged with any tax offense. People often go to jail for tax evasion or failing to file their income tax returns. A single tax evasion calls for a 5 year jail time. To prove you guilty, the government needs to showcase your obligation to file tax returns and prove you willfully decided not to file them. They can prove this in several ways; a particular source of income you hid or indicate you claimed unviable tax deductions.

Internet Crimes

From hacking to the violation of terms of use, federal prosecutors charge people for their activities online. Computer related crimes are increasing as time goes by.

The conviction for white-collar cases seeks many years in prison. A lawyer who can sit down and carefully study your case is a requirement to prove that the government is wrong. White collar crimes mostly rely on the person intentions during the time of the crime. If the accused intent was to deceive, it worsens the case. However, if you can prove that it was a mistake, which will be your best bet.

Being subjected to a white-collar criminal investigation can be a very stressful time to say the least. You’re probably feeling afraid, confused, and might not know where to turn for help. While the easy answer is to immediately consult with a white-collar criminal attorney, you probably have many questions that you’d like answered first. The investigation process differs slightly than most cases you may be familiar with in a state court. This article will address the investigations process and how it works. It will also cover what you should and shouldn’t do once you discover that you’ve been the target of a federal white-collar criminal investigation.

Different types of governmental investigations in white collar criminal matters:

There are many ways you may find out that you’re under investigation or will be under investigation by the feds. None of them are pleasant nor will they make you feel at ease. There’s five different ways that you’ll find out that you’re the target of a federal investigation. Typically, only one method is utilized for each matter or investigation.

A target letter:

A target letter is a document that you’d receive in the mail from an Assistant United States Attorney that will tell you that you’re currently under investigation. The letter will provide some information; however, it should always be referred to an attorney for further analysis.

A subpoena notice:

This is a common request in white collar criminal matters. You’ll be asked to turn over documents to the federal grand jury. If you receive this notification, it’s imperative that you get in touch with a skilled federal white-collar criminal attorney at once for directions on how to handle the matter.

A search warrant:

If federal agents show up at your home with a search warrant, you’ll be required to comply with their demands. This is a rather unpleasant method of investigation that’s typically conducted at an incredibly inconvenient early morning hour when they’re aware that they’ll have the best chance of catching you at home.

Communication with or from a federal agent or agency:

Occasionally, a federal agent will attempt to reach you at home and speak to you regarding the matter. They may leave a response card or other form of communication that instructs you how to reach them if they’re unsuccessful in their attempt(s) to catch you at home. This communication will typically come from the agency that’s involved in investigating the crime.

Friends, family, community, and business partners:

You may find out through the “grapevine” that you’re under investigation. This is perhaps the most embarrassing method of communication possible. This can occur if these contacts are reached prior to the governmental agency reaching you. It’s important to avoid discussing these matters with anyone. This can lead to very unpleasant outcomes if the information is shared with anyone else, which is incredibly likely, even with the most trusted people.

Avoid doing these things during an investigation:

There’re several things to avoid doing during an investigation that could potentially destroy your case. As previously mentioned, do not discuss the case with anyone else. Not even the most trusted of friends or family members should be confided in during this time. The reason for this is that if they have information that the government may feel helpful, chances are that they’ll be subpoenaed. This could even lead to obstruction of justice charges if you’ve shared too much. It’s simply best just to avoid the topic altogether.

Destroying documents that you feel may incriminate you is also a very bad idea that could also destroy your case. Chances are that the government already has some inclination that they exist or expects to uncover the information through their investigation. Again, this could also lead to obstruction of justice charges. This includes any electronic files, emails, or anything else that will or could be included in the case.

If you’ve spoken with federal investigators or other agents, it’s important that you’re thoroughly honest. Misrepresentations and half-truths are typically uncovered by federal investigators. They’re trained to spot inconsistencies and know exactly what to look for with white collar crimes. If you’re concerned about what you’ve done or how it may appear, chances are you didn’t invent the crime. Chances are they’ve heard or seen it before. Lying to an investigator is never advised.

Consult with our white-collar criminal attorneys:

Our team of attorneys are skilled in handling federal white-collar criminal matters. We’ve successfully defended many cases of the same nature. Get in touch with us so we can review your case and devise a workable strategy for you, today.

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