A white-collar crime accusation or charge can impact your life in many ways. Because white-collar crime is different from many everyday violent crimes we often hear about, you may not believe a white-collar crime charge should be taken as seriously, but that is not true.
You still have plenty to lose if you are charged or convicted of a white-collar crime. A conviction comes with potential prison time, high fines and permanent damage to your professional and personal reputation.
Additionally, if you are convicted under a federal charge and sentenced to federal prison, you often are not eligible for parole.
Therefore, you must put on a strong defense if you are accused of a white-collar crime. Investigation is necessary to determine whether any of your rights were violated or to learn how to fight a false accusation.
Most white-collar crimes are based on fraud
White-collar crime is a term that covers various fraudulent schemes. The crime of fraud is at the heart of a white-collar charge. Most white-collar crimes are non-violent offenses with corruption, cheating or some form of dishonesty as a central element. White-collar crimes often happen in the business, commercial or financial worlds.
Some common examples of specific white-collar crimes in Hawaii include:
- Bank fraud
- Identity theft
- Insurance fraud
- Money laundering
- Tax evasion
You cannot be convicted of a white-collar crime if you had no intent
Concealment of the crime is another key element of white-collar crimes. Since white-collar crimes involve deceit or concealment, there is often a long and complex investigation before charges are brought.
Many white-collar crimes involve one criminal offense buried in a series of legitimate transactions, which makes proving intent challenging.
This can be used to your advantage as you examine strategies to defend yourself against a white-collar crime charge. To secure a conviction, the prosecution must prove you had criminal intent.
It is not enough to prove the illegal transaction. There must be evidence that the act was done with the intent to conceal something or deceive someone, rather than it being a simple oversight or careless act.
What to do if you are the subject of a white-collar crime investigation
You will often learn that you are being investigated for committing a white-collar crime before you are charged. This can necessarily fill you with fear and anxiety, wondering what to do next.
The one thing you should definitely not do next is speak with the police or investigators. This can be hard, because you likely want to talk with them to explain your side of the story and hope they believe it so the entire matter goes away.
This is a bad idea for many reasons and only increases the chance you will be convicted. Your words can be taken out of context, leaving you in a worse position than you were to begin with. Your nervousness may cause you to tell inconsistent stories or sound as if you are lying.
The best thing to do when you learn you are under investigation for a white-collar crime is to talk with a criminal defense attorney. You will be educated on your rights and start developing solid defense strategies.