Common Characteristics of White Collar Crimes

White collar crimes present many different challenges and issues than “street” or violent crimes, both in how they are charged and how they are defended. Some of the common characteristics of white collar crimes include:

Non-violent — white collar crimes differ primarily from other types of crime in that they are non-violent offenses.

Deception — white collar crimes encompass activities that use deception to obtain money, property or some other advantage or to cover up other criminal activity.

Intent — criminal intent plays a key role in white collar crimes, as prosecutors must not only prove that a defendant’s actions led to the commission of a white collar offense but that the defendant intended for the criminal action to end with a specific benefit or result. For example, in health care fraud cases, it must be proven that invoices were intentionally falsified and not just the result of an accounting error. In political corruption cases, it must be proven that something of value was given in exchange for a specific desired outcome rather than just gifts between friends.

Grand jury — in most criminal cases, the investigative work is done by law enforcement officials. When it comes to white collar crimes, the prosecutor’s main investigative tool is the grand jury, which can issue subpoenas to compel testimony from reluctant witnesses and allow the prosecution to obtain documents from companies that don’t necessarily want to cooperate. In more complex white collar cases, a grand jury’s investigative work can stretch for many months or even years.

Multiple defendants — most white collar crimes involve multiple actors who conspire together to commit fraud. This presents the prosecution with the opportunity to offer plea deals for minor actors in exchange for testimony against the main players.

Corporations — white collars crimes are often business crimes, and involve charges against companies as well as company officials.

Parallel proceedings — white collar cases often involve parallel proceedings, where defendants are charged with both criminal and civil violations. These proceedings can involve several different federal enforcement agencies, including the FBI, IRS, SEC, etc.

The Cogdell Law Firm is a full service criminal litigation and appellate law firm. We provide client-focused representation at all stages of the process, whether our clients are seeking to avoid charges, have been charged, or are seeking reversal of a conviction on appeal. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244 or dan@cogdell-law.com.

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