Everyone has heard the phrase “white-collar crime.” But when it comes to explaining these types of offenses, people often repeat common misconceptions.
Fraud lies at the core of most white-collar crimes. For example, you commit fraud whenever you lie about a material fact, someone believes that lie, and you benefit from that belief. So, if your mechanic – who almost certainly wears a blue, not white, collar – lies to you about the cost of parts on an invoice, he has committed what most people consider a white-collar crime. You also commit a fraud if you embezzle money from an employer, forge someone’s signature or even cheat on your taxes
Call a white-collar crime attorney from Protass Law PLLC today if you are facing charges for fraud or a related offense. Contact us at 212.455.0335 to schedule free and confidential case evaluation today.
Common Myths About White-Collar Crime
There are a number of fictions about white-collar crime, including:
It’s Easier to Get Away with White-Collar Crime
Many people believe that law enforcement does not investigate white-collar crime with the same vigor with which they pursue street criminals. This may have been true in the past, but since the 1980s, law enforcement has gotten increasingly tougher on white-collar crime.
According to former Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, the U.S. Department of Justice has begun “to rely, in white collar cases, on undercover investigative techniques that have perhaps been more commonly associated with the investigation of organized and violent crime.” For example, federal law enforcement has recently started wiretapping suspected white-collar criminals. Indeed, the government’s case against Raj Rajaratnam – head of one of the world’s largest hedge funds – was built, in part, on months of wiretaps. And that case resulted in the convictions of over 50 people working in the securities industry. .
White-Collar Criminals Don’t Serve Time
With the introduction in 1987 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines, federal judges lost virtually all of their discretion in imposing sentences on those convicted of having committed financial frauds. Since that time, the penalties – including jail time – for white-collar crime has increased exponentially. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, 40 percent of people convicted of fraud got prison time in 1985. Today, that percentage is closer to 70 percent.
Financial Frauds Are the Same as Robbery or Theft
Some people accuse white-collar criminals of engaging in the same conduct as “robbers” or “thieves.” Although it may be true that, for example, losing a chunk of one’s life savings is as traumatic for the victim as a home burglary, from the perspective of the perpetrator, the psychology is quite different. Robbery or outright theft requires confrontation of the victim, while white-collar crime rarely puts the perpetrator in such close proximity to the victim.
Indeed, perpetrators of insider trading, price-fixing, or bribery might see their offenses as victimless – the only harm is to the “integrity of the market,” or, if any concrete harm can be identified, it is so diffuse as to be imperceptible to those who suffer it. Without the same psychological stop signs signaling that one is about to break the law, many white-collar criminals cannot identify in hindsight the moment they crossed the line. Instead, most find that they slid gradually over it. Regardless of how they got there, though, financial frauds – whether a simple theft or a complex financial scheme – are similarly prosecuted and punished.
Contact a White-Collar Crime Attorney for Help Today
One thing that most people get right about white-collar crime is that it is often quite complex. Fraud cases can involve tens of thousands of pages of documents, a myriad of federal and state laws, government cooperating witnesses and numerous defendants. Defending these types of cases takes grit, organization and creative thinking.
Most white-collar crime suspects know when they are under investigation. If you have received any indication that the authorities are examining your business for criminal activity, you need to act fast and hire a white-collar crime attorney. Prompt and decisive action by Protass Law PLLC can help you to potentially avoid arrest and, if charged, a conviction and harsh criminal penalties.
Contact us today at 212.455.0335 for a free case consultation.