White Collar crimes describe a wide range of financial crimes committed by professionals, businesses, and government officials. Although these categories of crimes do not often involve violence, they can have grave consequences such as impoverishing lives, destroying companies, and throwing governments into debt. Embezzlement, Corporate Fraud, Money Laundering, Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, Mortgage Fraud, Insurance Fraud, and Healthcare Fraud are some of the most common crimes that fall under the White Collar category.
In 2008, Bernie Madoff, a former non-executive director of the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ) was sentenced to 150 years in prison for running the largest Ponzi scheme in US history and defrauding members of tens of billions of dollars. In addition to the prison sentence, Bernie Madoff also forfeited $170 billion. In May of 2017, a Romanian International, Bogdan Mocanu, was convicted and sentenced to prison for conspiracy to defraud some banks through ATM card skimming across three states; Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.
According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the white-collar crimes recorded in Middlesex County for the 2019 fiscal year included
White Collar crimes are under the jurisdiction of federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for investigation and prosecution. In Middlesex County, the District Attorney’s Office investigates and prosecutes White Collar crimes through the Special Investigations Unit.
The punishments for White Collar crimes may include imprisonment, fines, restitution, disgorgement, community service to a combination of multiple punishments. White Collar crimes are codified in the Crimes and Criminal Acts section of the United States Code. An amendment to this Act was made in 2002 by the White Collar Crime Penalty Enhancement Act to enforce stiffer punishments for violators, particularly for mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit a crime against or defraud the United States.
There is a perceived disparity between sentences for White Collar crimes and street crimes. According to a court review published by the United States Department of Justice, stated that employees of the government and its agencies are usually dealt harsher sentences compared to their counterparts in the private sector. Prison sentences are usually between six months to 3 years. Such sentences are considered mild compared to the heavier penalties dealt on street criminals. It is believed that a one-year sentence for the upper class and middle-class professionals carries more weight than a three to four-year sentence for street criminals. The loss of trust, integrity, and reputation suffered by professionals as consequences for a jail or prison sentence is considered to be more punitive. Besides, there are usually additional consequences for White Collar crime sentencing, such as social stigma and the likelihood of not getting employment after completing prison terms.
The job of White Collar crime lawyers is to protect their clients. More specifically, White Collar crime lawyers work to ensure that clients do not deal with investigators and prosecutors directly without their attorney present to avoid self-incrimination. Individuals under investigation for a white-collar crime may gain critical protection by contacting an attorney as early as possible.
A White Collar crime lawyer ensures their client’s rights are preserved during questioning, investigation, and trial. The attorney may also be able to limit investigators’ access to certain evidence, which could stall the prosecution’s progress at trial. More importantly, white-collar crime defense lawyers create a robust defense strategy based on the facts of the case and available evidence.
One of the defenses adopted by White Collar crime defense attorneys is lack of intent. In a tax fraud case, for example, the defense attorney may argue that the incorrect tax information submitted to authorities by the defendant was an error in fact. This strategy may be further bolstered by proving that the defendant has always made correct tax filings and has no reason to perpetrate tax fraud.
The defense attorney may also argue that the crime was, in fact, induced by the investigators. L If the defense attorney can prove that in the course of investigating the crime and leading up to the arrest, one or more of the actions of the investigators pushed the defendant to commit the act, or that another law-abiding citizen put in a similar situation would have acted the same.
The Foreign Practices Corrupt Act (FCPA) of 1977, is a United States law that forbids persons and entities from paying money to officials of foreign governments for the purpose of doing business or for gain. This Act prohibits the transfer of an item of value, by any means, to a foreign government official with the intention of obtaining favor or earn an undue advantage in whatever form.
In Middlesex County, an interested person may find White Collar crime attorneys by inquiring at the local county courthouses or an internet search. The Middlesex County Bar Association also offers a non-profit lawyer referral service. The service provides a user with the contact information of three appropriate attorneys. The user is expected to discuss with the attorneys to determine their level of expertise and charges, before deciding on who to hire.
When looking to hire a White Collar crime lawyer, it is essential to speak to lawyers that specialize in the White Collar crimes field and have vast experience working with clients.
White-collar crime attorneys charge reasonable fees that may be influenced by factors such as the length of the litigation, nature of case involved, type of client, etcetera. According to the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice, attorneys in the Fraud Unit earn between $117,191 to $166,500 annually.