The term “white collar” crime was first defined by sociologist Edwin Sutherland. It was used to describe crimes committed by persons of respectability and high social status in the course of their occupation. Today, the term is generally used to refer to non-violent crimes committed for financial gains. White collar crimes are typically committed by “white collar” workers, such as government employees, managers, business owners, professionals, mortgage brokers, bankers, lawyers, accountants, and doctors. While collar crimes have evolved into being considered serious offenses that can be prosecuted at either the state or federal level. Due to the complex nature of these crimes and the potential for serious consequences, those facing a white collar crime charge should retain the assistance of a criminal defense attorney with experience in this particular field of law.
White Collar Crime Offenses in Florida
There are several crimes that can fall under definition of white collar crimes in Florida. These include:
- Grand theft
- Mortgage fraud
- Employee theft
- Healthcare fraud
- Accounting fraud
- Telemarketing fraud
- Insurance fraud
Some white collar offenses are more often prosecuted federally, including:
- Bankruptcy fraud
- Antitrust violations
- Computer and internet fraud
- Identity theft
- Credit card fraud
- Inside trading
- Economic espionage
- Mail fraud
- Financial fraud
- Immigration fraud
- Government fraud
- Marriage fraud
- Money laundering
- Public corruption
- Securities fraud
- Tax evasion
- Trade secret theft
- Violation of environmental regulations
Potential Punishments for Conviction of a White Collar Crime
If convicted of a white collar crime, you could face the following serious punishments:
- Incarceration that can be for several years
- Criminal forfeiture
- The inability to gain future employment, obtain government benefits, or professional licensing and certifications
- An impact on employment and military service status
- Community service requirements
- A permanent criminal record
Generally, the more money involved in the crime, the harsher a sentence you will face. Criminal forfeiture can result in significant losses to a defendant convicted of a white collar offense. This punishment is imposed on an individual following their conviction. It requires the government indict the property used in or obtained with proceeds from the crime. Upon completion of a criminal trial, if the individual is convicted, criminal forfeiture proceedings can then occur. The proceedings may result in forfeiture of all property obtained with proceeds from the offense or used in the offense. For some, this could mean the loss of their home, bank accounts, and more.
Potential Defenses Against White Collar Criminal Charges
White collar crimes often involve complex legal and factual issues. Your exact defense will depend upon the nature of the crime, the individual circumstances, and your ultimate goal. Your experienced criminal defense attorney will thoroughly investigate the facts surrounding the allegations to uncover your strongest possible defense.
Some possible defenses include:
- Insufficient evidence
- Failure to read Miranda warnings
- Lack of intent
- Constitutional issues
- Mistaken identity
- Illegal search and seizure
The investigation of white collar crimes often takes months or even years. Occasionally, individuals remain unaware that they have become objectives of a white collar crime investigation. The charges come as a total shock. As soon as you suspect charges may follow, it is best to consult with a criminal defense attorney who will ensure your legal rights are protected to the fullest.
Frequently Asked Questions About White Collar Crimes
White collar crimes are less understood than many other crimes. As such, we have prepared the following list of frequently asked questions to provide you with more information concerning these offenses.
- Who prosecutes white collar crimes?
White collar crimes can violate state or federal criminal laws. If the crime is more complicated and involves suspects, victims or stolen property that cross state or national borders, the federal government will typically handle the case as they are better equipped to do so. If the case is being handled by the federal government, the FBI will investigate the case and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will prosecute it. Prosecutors within the U.S. Attorney’s Office are highly trained and notoriously aggressive. Some white collar cases will start off as state cases, being investigated by the local police or state agencies. The case is then later picked up by the federal government.
- What is embezzlement?
Embezzlement is one of the most commonly charged white collar crimes, yet many do not understand what comprises this offense. Embezzlement is defined as the fraudulent conversion of the property of another by a person who is in lawful possession of the property. It differs from larceny in that the individual charged was lawfully in possession of the property. Embezzlement crimes usually involve the existence of a relationship of trust, such as a trustee, agent, fiduciary, or treasurer, but can sometimes be as simple as the restaurant cashier keeping money that belonged in the register.
- What is fraud?
Many white collar crimes involve fraud, from mortgage fraud and bankruptcy fraud to tax fraud and mail fraud. Fraud is defined as the intentional false misrepresentation of a matter of fact or the intentional perversion of the truth which induces another person to part with a valuable item or surrender a legal right. In addition to this traditional criminal definition of fraud, there are several regulatory laws that have specific rules that must be complied with. If you do not follow these rules, you could be charged with fraud.
- Do I need a white collar criminal defense attorney to defend against my charges?
White collar crimes are distinct and require knowledge of numerous state and federal laws. Your best chance at a successful outcome requires the assistance of a criminal attorney well versed in white collar crimes.
Zealous Defense Against White Collar Criminal Charges
White collar crimes are complex and often involve severe consequences. When faced with one of these serious charges, you need representation of unmatched skill and excellence. To schedule a free consultation with one of our dedicated and experienced Gainesville Criminal Defense Attorneys, contact us today.