18 Apr What Is A White Collar Crime?
White-collar crimes are not a legally recognized category of offenses, but crimes involving allegations of fraud, deceit or theft often carry that label. Many federal offenses are considered white-collar crimes. The name is associated with offenses that often implicate people in a business, a financial institution, or a government entity, as opposed what someone might call a street crime, like robbery or assault.
Are All White Collar Crimes Prosecuted In Federal Court?
Not all white-collar crimes are prosecuted in Federal Court. White-collar offenses are prosecuted in state court quite often. For instance, something that involves fraud can be prosecuted in a state court. Certain misrepresentations of identity crimes are prosecuted in state court. Ponzi schemes and things of that nature are considered white-collar offenses.
Most states have a section of its attorney general’s office that focuses on white-collar offenses. North Carolina has special prosecutors who prosecute white-collar offenses throughout the state. Those offenses include embezzlement, identity fraud, and obtaining property by false pretenses in North Carolina.
Who Is Prosecuting And Investigating These Cases In Federal Court?
Federal and State agencies, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service and the NC State Bureau of Investigations, investigate these cases. Allegations of a fraud or a large embezzlement scheme may create concurrent jurisdiction, especially if banks or federally regulated electronic communication are used in the transactions. Even if a state agency investigates the allegations, the federal government may decide to prosecute the case. Other times, the federal government passes and leaves the prosecution to the state court.
What Are Some Things I Should Consider When I Am Hiring An Attorney?
In general, choose a lawyer comfortable defending against investigations and prosecutions in state and federal courts. Often, the investigations of white-collar allegations begin long before charges, sometimes lasting years. Those investigations affect people who are targets, subjects, and witnesses. A target is someone the prosecution is after and expects to charge as a result of the investigation. A subject is someone the government has reason to believe may have committed an offense, but is not a target (yet). Finally, a witness is someone the government believes has information, but has not committed a crime.
Another situation is when an employee is caught up in a corporate investigation. When a government investigation prompts a corporate investigation, employees often need independent counsel because their personal interests conflict with the interests of the corporations.
Corporations hire large law firms to investigate the corporation, but these investigators have little obligation to protect individual employees. In many cases, employees need independent counsel to protect their individual interests. Quite frequently, the government uses the corporation as a quasi-government entity to conduct the government’s investigations. That can be dangerous for the individual employees, so they need their own counsel in many cases.
What Should Someone Do If They Suspect They Are Being Investigated For A Crime?
Call a lawyer. If you do not know an experienced criminal lawyer, call a lawyer and ask for a referral to a criminal defense lawyer, preferably one with experience defending against white-collar investigations. The most important thing to remember is you can always talk later, but you cannot take back what you say today. When a person is contacted during an investigation, the investigator knows much more about the investigation and what other people are saying than you will. Any unrepresented person is at a strong disadvantage answering questions for an investigator who knows the substance of the allegations, the sources of that information, and the target of any potential prosecution.
Take the time to discuss the situation with a qualified lawyer, someone who focuses on criminal defense and these types of investigations. That lawyer can contact the investigators and gather information before responding to any interview requests.
Additional Information About White Collar Crimes In North Carolina
Some white-collar offenses are crimes of regulation, meaning the line between legal and illegal conduct can be cloudy. The offenses may not be about issues of morality at all. While almost everybody agrees that breaking into someone’s house is wrong, and should be illegal, not everyone agrees that all conduct labeled as a white-collar offense should be illegal.
More important, individuals immersed in a complex financial situation may have a difficult time distinguishing between legal or illegal conduct. That’s why many conversations and proposals in recent years about criminal justice reform include changes that require proof of criminal intent before as an element of the offenses.
Amos Tyndall is a criminal trial lawyer, who represents people accused of serious crimes in state and federal courts throughout North Carolina. He has successfully defended people against a wide range of charges, including vehicular homicides, white collar offenses, and first-degree murder. Amos has taught trial practice with the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer’s College and been listed in ©The Best Lawyers in America since 2013. (t) (919) 967-0504; firstname.lastname@example.org.