A crime that is called “white collar” is a crime that involves fraud for financial gain, typically carried out by a business professional. These crimes are nonviolent and are based on deceit or concealment to either obtain and/or avoid losing money or to gain a personal or business advantage. At Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh, our Raleigh federal lawyers are experienced in defending white-collar crimes. In this article, we cover the common defense strategies that are used in these types of cases.
Types of White-Collar Crimes
Types of white-collar crimes include:
- Financial Crimes
- Tax evasion and tax fraud
- Wire fraud, including money transfers done via Internet or computer
- Mail fraud
- Insurance fraud, including Medicare and Medicaid
- Anti-trust crimes
- Money laundering
- RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) related to organized crime
- Identity theft
- Corporate fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Employee theft
- Financial fraud
Common Defenses for White-Collar Crimes
White-collar crimes have hefty penalties because many times the crimes involve harming others financially.
Some penalties include:
- Victim restitution
- Steep fines
- Prison time
- Property forfeiture
- Community service
Some common defense tactics used against white-collar charges include:
- Lack of intent
- Illegal search or seizure
- Statute of limitations
- Coercion and/or duress
Sometimes law enforcement will use tactics to uncover a crime that is being committed. Police sting operations and undercover police can walk a tenuous balance between lawful and unlawful activity in obtaining evidence. The use of threats, fraud, or harassment to coerce someone to commit a crime they would not ordinarily commit may occur. Entrapment is when a police officer induces or persuades someone to commit an offense that the person would have not committed otherwise. If you can prove that you would not have committed the crime without the influence of the undercover officer, you can argue you were entrapped.
Lack of Intent
Lack of intent is a strong defense against a white-collar criminal charge because most white-collar crimes are crimes of intent. There are two key elements in an offense: 1) engagement in an illegal act and 2) intending to, knowingly undertake the prohibited action. The prosecution must prove that the defendant acted with intent to defraud or illicitly obtain money or advantages. If they cannot prove intent, the defense can argue that the case has no validity and should be dismissed.
Illegal Search and Seizure
Evidence must be obtained legally or it can be thrown out. The defense can investigate and question the incorruptibility of the investigation and the search and seizure process.
Statute of Limitations
Criminal charges must be brought forward within a certain amount of time which is known as the “statute of limitations.” The defense can raise this as a defense if charges are not filed within the applicable time limits.
If the person was drugged or intoxicated during the crime and the inebriation was involuntary in order for the person to commit the crime, this can be used as a defense. For example, if a person is given drugs without their knowledge or consent and then shares confidential company information, they can argue that they are not guilty of insider trading because they were coaxed by another party to disclose the information while involuntarily intoxicated.
Coercion and/or Duress
There may be instances where a person commits a crime because he/she was forced either through physical or verbal threats. If so, the defense attorney can argue that the defendant acted in duress. If a person received a message that their family would be hurt unless they committed a criminal act, the attorney can argue that they only committed the crime out of duress and external pressure.
A person can fight to prove they are not responsible for their criminal conduct because of a mental illness or defect they have or had at the time of the offense. In this defense, the lawyer must prove that the defendant has a substantial and diagnosed mood, thought, or behavior disorder. An insanity plea does not absolve a defendant from guilt or dismiss the criminal charges. Instead, the defendant still faces criminal penalties but can be remanded to a mental institute and provided mental health support.
Contact Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh
If you are charged with a white-collar crime, you need expert legal advice and representation quickly. It’s imperative that you work with a knowledgeable and experienced defense team that understands white-collar crime. At Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh, our lawyers can help you prepare for your case thoroughly and guide you every step of the way. Contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for a free consultation at 919-887-8040 or fill out our contact form below to speak to one of our attorneys today.