The term “white collar crime” has no universally agreed-upon definition. It is typically used to describe a legal offense committed in a commercial or business setting where the position the perpetrator holds plays a key role in the offense. As a San Diego white collar defense attorney explains, it is essentially a paper crime with a financial benefit or some other advantage gained by deceit without threat or actual violence involved.
Investigation of a White Collar Crime
Unlike many crimes, a white collar crime seldom involves an arrest without warning. Investigations often take months or longer to develop. In that time, an individual may be interviewed by prosecutors or subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury. Even if that person is ultimately not the subject of the investigation, it is important to retain the counsel of a San Diego white collar defense attorney as soon as possible. The attorney will not impede the investigation, but they will be certain no rights are inadvertently waived by the individual. If the person is or becomes the subject of the investigation, a San Diego white collar criminal defense attorney may be able to reduce the person's exposure to criminal liability or perhaps work out a deal for immunity in exchange for co-operation and testifying for the prosecution.
San Diego White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney Discusses the Types of White Collar Crimes
White collar crime ranges in scope from one single incident, such as an individual failing to disclose assets in a bankruptcy petition to one that impacts thousands of people and involves billions of dollars, says a San Diego white collar criminal defense attorney. Think Ponzi schemes and Bernie Madoff. Some of the most commonly committed white collar crimes involve:
- Fraud: an act of fraud is a deception that is done intentionally in an effort to have the victim rely on that deception to the victim's detriment and the perpetrator's advantage. A common type of white collar fraud is securities fraud. Although insider trading often comes to mind, other securities fraud include misleading statements about a company's economic well being made in public reports inducing investment in the company. Other examples of fraud include mortgage fraud, insurance fraud and Medicare fraud;
- Embezzlement: embezzlement may be defined as the fraudulent appropriation of property by one lawfully entrusted with its possession. The key element is the individual was legally entitled to hold the property but diverted it for personal gain. Acts of embezzlement typically involve an employee misappropriating their employer's funds or an attorney or financial advisor misusing client funds;
- Tax evasion: the clear aim is to avoid paying legally owed taxes and can take the form of simply filing incorrect information on tax forms to unlawfully transferring title of property;
- Bribery: involves the offering of something of value to a public official or executive to influence that individual in the discharge of their duty; and
- Money laundering: involves the filtering of illegally obtained money through a series of financial transactions that has as its goal making the money appear as if it were the product of a legitimate enterprise.
The Complexity of White Collar Cases
Part of the reason white collar crimes are the subject of lengthy investigations is the complexity of the evidence. It is not unusual for literally thousands of documents, emails and other items of paperwork to comprise the prosecutor's case. Although this may seem overwhelming to the defendant charged in the case, this can be an advantage to the experienced San Diego white collar criminal defense attorney. The prosecution, after all, has the burden of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt and the defense need only find a single flaw in the government's case to plant a seed of doubt in the jury's mind.
Contact a San Diego White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney for Legal Advice
White collar crimes carry serious penalties upon conviction. Be certain you have a knowledgeable and zealous advocate to represent you. Call San Diego white collar criminal defense attorney James V. Hairgrove at 619-667-3743.