White-collar crimes are usually motivated by money rather than revenge, violence, or other primal urges. These crimes do not cause the same harm as violent crimes like rape or murder, but they attract severe consequences.
White-collar criminals are not typical either. Frequently, they are educated professionals with leading roles in companies, firms, and communities. News of their crimes takes their associates by surprise. However, one poor decision or desperate judgment leads to long-term consequences that affect your reputation, earning capacity, and overall future.
Breslow Law Offices is one of the oldest and most prominent law firms in New Jersey, and we offer over 45 years of law practice, including criminal defense. You can call an Essex County criminal defense lawyer at (973) 239-8000 or our Ocean County office at (609) 494-8884 if you face white-collar crime charges.
Common Types of White-Collar Crimes
The FBI coined the phrase “white-collar crime” in 1939. It is a broad category that includes theft and fraud committed by business and government professionals.
Crimes may be prosecuted under state and federal laws. If you face federal charges, the FBI may work with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), U.S. Postal Inspection Services, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in their criminal investigation, resulting in multiple government investigations. When you face multiple agencies, you may face additional charges as they continue their criminal investigation.
Common white collar crimes include:
- Embezzlement: Generally, embezzlement is the crime of taking money from another when you hold that money in a position of trust. A bookkeeper who skims funds as they balance books is guilty of embezzlement, as well as investment advisors who misuse client funds.
- Credit card theft: Any offenses linked to credit or debit cards fall under credit card theft. It can take many forms, including misusing a credit or debit card entrusted to you, creating fake credit cards, or using a card that was lost, stolen, or mailed to the wrong address. These are third or fourth-degree offenses in NJ.
- Insurance fraud: If you misuse an insurance policy or mispresent a claim to ensure it is paid, you likely committed insurance fraud. Offenses also include staging accidents and other catastrophic events to receive claim payments. For example, if you set fire to your office building because you want a payout on a $1.3 million insurance policy, that may be insurance fraud. These are third or fourth-degree offenses.
- Corporate crime: Corporate crime is a broad umbrella that includes falsifying financial information, self-dealing, and other frauds, including late trading, misrepresenting financial success, and using the company’s property for personal gain.
- Money laundering: Offenders commit money laundering to cover up profitable crimes like human trafficking, drugs, and illegal contraband. Money laundering also hides fraud schemes, especially those involving investment, security, insurance, and healthcare fraud. It involves depositing money into a financial institution and making complex transactions to making tracing its source impossible. Once “cleaned,” money mixes with legally obtained money.
- Securities fraud: The most common type of securities fraud is insider trading, which uses confidential information to make investment trades in violation of your duties and obligations to the company. It also includes misstating financial health, prospects, and finances to inflate stock value artificially. Securities fraud frequently leads to an SEC investigation and federal sanctions once they confirm you made false claims.
- Forgery: While this crime is often associated with falsifying signatures, it also includes altering data and information on another party’s behalf without their permission. This crime also involves creating fake entities to execute contracts or collect money. Forgery occurs with using checks, credit and debit cards, postage, and sales receipts. It attracts additional charges like wire fraud (if information or money transmits online) or mail fraud (if the offender used the United States postal service to move money or fraudulent documents).
White-collar crime also includes regulatory violations:
- Antitrust violations: This category includes crimes such as colluding with competitors in schemes like price-fixing, market division, and bid-rigging. Some antitrust violations include security fraud to enhance company reputations.
- Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations: Enforced by the SEC and Department of Justice (DOJ), the FCPA prohibits bringing foreign officials to advance business deals. Depending on other actions taken while bribing officials, you may also face penalties under anti-corruption laws.
- Whistleblower retaliation: If you are involved with retaliating against an employee who reported COVID violations, unsafe work conditions, or other adverse information about your company, you may face penalties under OSHA’s whistleblower laws.
Unfortunately, these crimes are often subtle, especially tax evasion or investment fraud. You may not have known you were committing a crime until you hear from regulators or officers stop by your home or business to arrest you. But denial will only get you so far, and you need to hire an NJ criminal defense attorney to ensure the court hears your side.
Potential Penalties for White-Collar Crimes in NJ
White-collar crime is not the traditional violent personal crime that many people associate with stiff sentences. But courts and government agencies go down on white-collar crime hard. You can face penalties that are not dissimilar to other types of crime.
Prison or Jail
You will likely serve your sentence in a low-security facility, but you lose your freedom all the same. Time spent in prison is often extensive. Christian Allmendinger committed money laundering, securities fraud, mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. In August 2011, the court sentenced him to 45 years in prison.
This sentence was the result of $100 million of fraud. While it is a hefty sentence, it is not an exception. Many white-collar crimes come with a sentencing recommendation of up to 20 years in prison.
Once convicted, house arrest is often an alternative to prison. You must wear an ankle monitor at all times, and venturing outside your home is limited. The court may oppose other limits regarding work and computer access. If you do not follow your limitations or try to profit from the crime with a book or movie deal, the court may return you to jail.
House arrest is easier to pursue during this pandemic. State and federal prosecutors are reluctant to place low-risk offenders where they can easily catch COVID. If you have morbidity factors, it is more likely that you receive house arrest over prison time.
When sentenced to probation, you are free to navigate your community, but there are conditions. You must meet with your probation officer regularly and avoid missing any meetings. If you miss a meeting, the court issues a warrant for your arrest.
Other conditions imposed in probation may include remaining employed, attending classes or compliance programs, and abstaining from certain Internet activities, depending on your charges. For example, your sentence may prohibit you from visiting stock-trading websites or use any apps that handle other people’s money. Failure to follow these conditions results in an arrest warrant and a higher likelihood of prison or jail time.
Fines range from a few hundred dollars up to the thousands, depending on the extent of your charges and whether you face state or federal penalties. You may pay a fine as your sole punishment, or the court imposes them on top of probation, house arrest, or prison.
Restitution involves paying back your victims for the harm you caused them. For example, if the court found you guilty of investment fraud and determined you defrauded your victims of $50,000, your restitution may include paying back that money. Like fines, restitution is sentenced in combination with other penalities.
Even after you pay penalties, a white-collar crime conviction can darken your financial and career paths. Many people convicted of high-profile crimes still face disparagement and find moving forward difficult.
The best course of action is to ensure these charges never make it to the sentencing phase, where our NJ criminal defense firm can help. But if you are convicted, we focus on aggressively arguing for leniency, so you have a chance to rehabilitate your reputation.
Our NJ White-Collar Criminal Defense Lawyers Offers Free Consultation
Breslow Law Offices offers 45 years of criminal law experience as criminal defense lawyers. As former prosecutors, we know the criminal justice system’s inner workings and can leverage that knowledge to create the best defense strategy.
When you retain one of our lawyers, we are there through every step, including:
- Police and prosecutor interviews: We ensure law enforcement does not pressure you into making false confessions or force you to answer questions that violate your constitutional rights. Our attorney-client relationship means we keep your secrets and ensure you do not release them inappropriately.
- Review grand jury charges: We can successfully move to drop some charges. Along with any arrest warrants, we also thoroughly review indictments to which charges may not stand in trial and negotiate with prosecutors.
- Attend your bail hearing: Our attorneys know how to make the NJ bail guidelines work for you, so courts do not impose a burdensome amount or refuse to release you on your own recognizance.
- Informed defense strategy: We use our experience to create the best defense strategy possible. Depending on your charges, we may strive for dismissal, and if that does not work, acquittal.
- Fair treatment: If the court finds you guilty, we argue vigorously for appropriate sentencing that matches the crime. In many cases, there are grounds for leniency like first time offender, willingness to enter rehabilitation or compliance programs, or significant remorse and willingness to pay restitution.
- Expungement: If you previously served a white-collar crime sentence, an NJ expungement lawyer can help. Removing white-collar offenses from your record helps with employment and reputation. Speak to us about expungement once you serve a sentence.
- Other assistance: If you require an appeal or need defense from civil litigation resulting from your actions, we can refer you to additional counsel.
If you face white-collar criminal charges, time is of the essence. The sooner you retain Breslow Law Offices to handle your NJ criminal charges, the more time we have to examine your case and plan an effective defense. Contact us today at (973) 239-8000 or our Ocean County office at (609) 494-8884 to schedule a free consultation. We can represent you in state and federal courts.