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White Collar Offenses

Understanding White Collar Offenses With a Columbus, Ohio, Criminal Defense Attorney

How is white collar defined?

No single law defines or prohibits an offense called “white collar crime.” The FBI characterizes it as: “lying, cheating and stealing.” The Legal Information Institute writes more precisely that white collar crime “generally encompasses a variety of nonviolent crimes usually committed in commercial situations for financial gain.”

We provide more explicit examples below, but what you must know upfront is that white collar offenses involve taking money illegally from individuals or businesses without using a gun and without ever picking a lock.

Does white collar crime differ from theft and fraud?

All white collar crimes are thefts, and many are committed by fraud. The way people talk about an offense’s scope, perpetrator, and technique distinguishes a white collar crime from other types of nonviolent larceny. Here is what we mean by that:

  • Scope—Those accused of white collar offenses are usually suspected of stealing large sums and of financially harming many people. Millions of dollars and the potential or actual collapse of entire businesses are often at stake.
  • Perpetrator—Corporations often get named as defendants in white collar crime cases, while individuals more often get described as having committed theft.
  • Technique—Even though the offense may boil down to misrepresenting information or embezzling, a white collar crime is often characterized as an audacious con, elaborate scheme, and or ingenious exploitation of a hidden weakness in s complex financial systems.

What do white collar offenses look like?

Examples of alleged offenses that typically get described as white collar crimes include

  • Filing large numbers of false insurance claims, including claims for Medicare and Medicaid
  • Selling fake investments and insurance policies
  • Money laundering
  • Price fixing
  • Insider trading of stocks and commodities
  • Illegal billing
  • Engaging in wage theft
  • Offering and accepting bribes
  • Raising money for nonexistent charities
  • Counterfeiting consumer goods
  • Misrepresenting product benefits and safety, especially for food and pharmaceuticals
  • Cheating on corporate taxes

Who investigates and prosecutes white collar crimes?

State and federal officials typically cooperate on investigating and prosecuting white collar offenses because money crosses state lines and national boundaries. Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal of Investigations, which operates under the state attorney general, usually takes the lead on looking into allegations of large-scale financial crimes that affect Ohioans. Other state offices that have authority in this area include the AG’s Consumer Protection Section, the Department of Insurance, and the Department of Taxation.

Different U.S. government agencies get involved depending on the nature of the purported offense. For instance, the IRS investigates and prosecutes allegations of tax fraud. The Secret Service, the FBI, and U.S. Customs could all take part in pursuing charges and convictions for suspected counterfeiting.

The reality to acknowledge is that if you or the company you direct is accused of committing a white collar offense, you will have to deal with many very serious individuals for a considerable length of time. Contacting a white collar criminal defense lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, as soon as possible after you learn you may face charges can help you protect your rights and business interests.

How are white collar offenses punished?

Even though the offense is nonviolent by definition, jail time is a real possibility for individuals convicted of white collar crimes. Avoiding imprisonment may depend on cooperating with authorities, accepting some kind of plea, and volunteering early on in the prosecution to make restitution. Any such negotiations should be conducted with advice and representation from a skilled defense lawyer.

Corporations cannot go to jail, but paying large fines and court-ordered restitution is common for businesses involved in financial misdoings. Practical consequences can include corporate bankruptcy and personal unemployment, along with all the problems those situations bring.

How can a Columbus white collar crimes lawyer help me?

One of the most important things working with a dedicated criminal defense attorney can do for you is ensure that investigators have, and stick to the letter of, warrants to access and seize corporate records, interview employees, and freeze assets. As noted above, white collar crime investigations often involve the biggest guns in law enforcement. You must ensure that you do not see your constitutional rights fall victim to overly aggressive authorities.

If charges get filed and a trial looms, a skilled white collar crimes lawyer will work to make laws and procedures operate in your favor. For instance, no government official can induce you to take an illegal action. In practice, this means that no law enforcement operative can promise you benefits if you cut a few corners or make under-the-table payments and then turn around and charge you with theft and fraud. Conducting a parallel investigation to detect such instances of entrapment would be one of your defense lawyer’s principal responsibilities.

Drawing bright lines between honest errors and perceived wrongdoing is also an essential job for a defense attorney. For instance, many investments do not pay off. When that happens, people who lost money may make level unfounded accusations against financial advisors. Misreading the market and giving advice that turns out to be incorrect is not illegal and should not be prosecuted.

You can contact Campbell Law to learn more about what kinds of defenses can be offered against white collar crime charges. The initial consultation will cost you nothing.