White collar crime in NC: Definitions, penalties and defenses

Embezzlement, fraud and money laundering are all examples of these non-violent crimes.

White collar crime is a specific area within the broad legal world of criminal law. This area deals with offenses that result in the financial gain of the accused at the expense of another, generally without the use of violence. White collar crimes can include allegations of embezzlement, income tax evasion, money laundering and various forms of fraud such as mortgage fraud and securities fraud.

Since these crimes are nonviolent, one may presume that the penalties associated with a conviction would take the form of monetary fees alone. This is an erroneous presumption. In addition to steep financial penalties, white collar crime convictions can also come with serious prison time, depending on the details of the allegations.

White collar crime defined

As noted above, there are a number of types of white collar crime. Embezzlement involves improperly taking money from someone that the accused owes a duty. A common example is a company employee, such as a bank teller, taking money from the institution he or she works for and putting it into a personal account.

White collar crimes that fall into the area of fraud are generally those that involve the use of deception for monetary gain. Mortgage fraud, for example, is defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a "material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission in relation to a mortgage loan which is then relied upon by a lender." Essentially, this is a lie that is used to influence a bank's decision to provide the applicant with a loan.

Money laundering is a charge that often accompanies other white collar crime charges. This crime involves attempts to remove the money from its allegedly criminal origin. Generally the process involves three steps: deposit the money into a bank, move forward with a number of complex transactions and then integrate the money back into the market by using it to purchase other assets.

White collar crime penalties

It is important to note that not all of the penalties are direct. In addition to the potential for criminal penalties such as monetary fines and imprisonment, allegations of commission of a white a collar crime can have a devastating impact on one's reputation. As such, it is important to take even initial allegations seriously.

Defenses to allegations of white collar crimes

Those who are charged with white collar crimes have options. Defenses are available that can be used to help establish your innocence. The American Bar Association, a group of legal professionals from throughout the country, note that two examples of defense strategies often used for these types of crimes include information control and substantive legal argument.

The first step, information control, essentially involves an attorney's attempts to legally remove evidence gathered during the investigation and used against the accused. This can be done in a number of ways. An attorney will likely review the methods use to gather the evidence. If the evidence used by the government to support the charges was not gathered legally, the evidence may be thrown out.

The second strategy, the substantive strategy, essentially involves crafting an argument to establish that there is no substance to the case. This involves reviewing the facts presented and showing that they are not enough to support allegations of criminal activity.

Actually crafting these general defense strategies into a successful argument requires that the defense be tailored to each individual case. As such, it is wise for those who are facing white collar crime charges to seek legal counsel.