A white collar crime is any crime that involves fraudulent activities for the primary purpose of financial gain. Therefore, it is common among professional individuals or businesses. Suppose you are accused of committing a white collar crime in Greensboro. In that case, you need to work with a criminal defense attorney to develop a defense strategy, especially since these crimes are considered federal offences. Before hiring a Greensboro lawyer specializing in white collar crime, understand the laws surrounding it and the associated penalties.
Overview of White Collar Crimes
White collar crime is classified as non-violent crime. There is no definitive classification of white collar crime in North Carolina law; however, it is a widely accepted term in the industry and among legal professionals. It refers to financial crimes and fraudulent activities involving white collar workers and businesses.
North Carolina law treats white-collar crimes as federal crimes. Therefore, you need an attorney with expertise in the federal court system when facing this type of criminal charge. The federal procedure is also different from the state court system, which again emphasizes the value of an expert attorney in handling these cases.
The following are examples of white collar crimes:
- Money laundering
- Identity theft
- Tax evasion
- Ponzi schemes
- Fraud (credit card, mail and wire, healthcare, insurance fraud, etc.)
- Bribery and extortion
- Public corruption
- Securities violations
- Organized crime
Most individuals or professionals charged with white collar crimes are in a position of power or authority. Therefore, they employ deceit or concealment to gain an advantage over their victims. But if you are wrongfully charged with the crime, ensure you have an experienced attorney to defend your case, or you could face several years in jail and other fines.
What to Do If You Are Charged with White Collar Crime?
The most crucial step when you are charged with a white collar crime is to contact an attorney. Ideally, choose an attorney in Greensboro with experience in handling criminal defense cases, such as Garrett, Walker, Aycoth & Olson, Attorneys at Law. An attorney’s wealth of knowledge can be a weapon you can use to defend against wrongful accusations that could result in jail time.
It would help to have a legal representative when you discover you’re under investigation. Do not wait until the filing of formal charges, or else it could be too late. With an attorney’s experience in federal fraud investigations, you could achieve a favorable result in your criminal case.
Possible Defenses for White Collar Crimes
Understanding how to formulate a defense strategy for a white-collar crime is critical as you attempt to dismiss or prevent criminal charges. No matter the type or nature of the crime, you could face severe penalties, such as prison time, seizure of properties, and steep fines. Even though it is a non-violent crime, the steep penalties are commensurate with the financial damage caused.
Let’s examine the common defense strategies for white collar crimes.
- Lack of Intent
Intent is a significant determining factor when assessing criminal activity, and the same applies to white collar crimes. Demonstrating a lack of intent in these crimes is a great defense strategy because the nature of the crime is built upon the intent to inflict financial loss or damage to others.
When you intend to deceive others (victims) for your financial gain, you are liable for such an act. However, if you and your defense team can prove that you had no intent (coupled with a lack of motive) to commit the crime, it could help dismiss your case or lower its gravity. If the prosecution cannot provide proof of intent for the defendant, it weakens their case against you, potentially leading to its dismissal.
- Coercion or Duress
Individuals coerced into committing a crime can have their sentence reduced or their charges dismissed if they cooperate with law enforcement agencies. This is often the case with fraudulent activities involving organized crimes or businesses. Individuals will participate in illegal activity because they are threatened or pressured with serious consequences if they refuse to get involved. Your attorney can argue this defense based on evidence that you were forced to commit a criminal act.
- Illegal Search and Seizure
The court will honor evidence against your criminal case only if the evidence was obtained legally. Otherwise, the court will not honor that evidence, which could lead to the dismissal of your case.
You could use that as a defence if the authorities investigating your case obtained their evidence illegally. You must demonstrate the corrupt process of the investigating bodies, especially in their search and seizure process.
- Statute of Limitations
Filing criminal charges against you, even for white collar crimes, is subject to a statute of limitations. It means the prosecution is allowed a certain time frame to bring forward evidence on criminal charges against you. If they fail to obtain and present evidence within the allotted time frame, you can use the statute of limitations defense toward your case dismissal.
- Intoxication or Insanity
Whether you are going through mental health issues or were intoxicated when the crime was committed, you can use it as a defense in your case. A person who is intoxicated is not fully aware of their activities or could be easily coerced into engaging in criminal activity without their full consent. It is also true for someone who is diagnosed with a mood or behavior disorder.
Depending on what applies to your case, your attorney can build a defense argument in court that will prove your innocence or have your charges reduced (if not dismissed).
The perceived high social status of white collar workers can work against you in arguing your case in court. In your case, it would be difficult to win over the jury’s sympathy; often, criminals involved in white collar crimes are perceived as greedy as these crimes are usually financially motivated. Therefore, you need an excellent lawyer to fight for your case and achieve a favorable outcome.