1. What are White Collar Crimes?
White Collar Crimes are generally non-violent acts that involve some type of concealment, deception, misrepresentation or false statement, most often committed by professionals and other people in "white collar" industries, such as healthcare, banking, investment, accounting and insurance, as well as by public officials. Examples include Healthcare Fraud, Insurance Fraud, Bank Fraud, Tax Evasion, Securities Fraud, Ponzi Schemes, Credit Card Fraud, Embezzlement, Money Laundering, Mortgage Fraud, Computer/Internet Fraud and Bribery/Bribe Receiving.
2. Who prosecutes White Collar Crimes?
Both the federal and state governments vigorously investigate and prosecute White Collar Crimes. Because white collar crimes can often cross state and international borders, federal prosecutors are generally better suited to handle these cases. However, in New York, the State Attorney General and local District Attorneys, such as those based in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Westchester Counties, are also very active in prosecuting these cases.
3. What penalties do persons accused of committing White Collar face?
Penalties can be quite severe, particularly in federal court. Federal penalties are based on federal sentencing guidelines which, while no longer mandatory but only advisory, must still be consulted by the sentencing judge. In White Collar Crimes, these sentencing guidelines are driven by the amount of the loss. The higher the loss, the more severe the potential sentence. In addition to jail, defendants may also be ordered to pay restitution, to forfeit illegal gains and be fined. Similarly, severe penalties are often imposed in state prosecutions.
4. What should I do if contacted by law enforcement?
Law enforcement agents are very good at what they do. Their job is to get the evidence that they need to make a legally sufficient case. By the time an investigator goes out to speak to you, the investigator has already done a substantial amount of investigating and has a good idea whether you are a target of the criminal probe or not. Because what you say to an investigator can be used against you in a criminal prosecution, if approached, you should simply listen to what the investigator has to say without saying anything and take his/her card. You should then consult with an attorney, who can reach out to the investigator on your behalf and find out if you are a target of the investigation, or merely a witness. It is not unheard of for an individual to go from being a witness to being a target of the investigation for failure to obtain appropriate legal representation and going at it alone.
5. Why should I have a lawyer represent me?
White Collar Crimes are very complex matters, involving complicated legal and factual issues. If you are the subject of a White Collar criminal investigation, or have been charged with a White Collar crime, it is critical that you immediately retain an experienced white collar criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights and your future. Innocent persons can end up in jail and their futures destroyed. Even if you intend to plead guilty, you should still seek the advice of experienced white collar criminal counsel to help minimize your sentence.