When you think of the word “crime” you likely envision something that involves violence or drugs. Not all criminal offenses, however, have a violent element to them nor do they all have something to do with drugs or other unsavory subject matters. White collar crimes, in particular, involve neither violence nor drugs. On the contrary, many white collar crimes involving doing the same things business people do on a daily basis; however, doing them in a manner that is in violation of the law. If you have been charged with a white collar crime, however, do not make the mistake of thinking you are in any less potential trouble than someone charged with “traditional” criminal offenses because the potential punishment for many white collar crimes can include a lengthy prison sentence and/or a hefty fine. Consequently, if you have been charged with a white collar crime it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced Tennessee criminal lawyer right away.
What Is a White Collar Crime?
Although the term “white collar crime” is used on a regular basis is the U.S. legal system by everyone involved – even law enforcement officers and prosecutors — it is not truly a legal term. The term “white collar crime” was first defined by sociologist Edwin Sutherland in 1939 as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation”. That basic definition still works today. Examples of criminal offenses that are typically considered to fall within the category of “white collar crimes” include:
- Computer crimes
- Insider trading
- Copyright infringement
- Money laundering
- Cyber crimes
- Identity theft
The Risk of a Federal Prosecution
One of the many reasons why you need to take accusations relating to white collar crimes seriously is the increased likelihood of a federal prosecution. One of the primary ways in which a case falls under the jurisdiction of the federal criminal justice system is when the activity or crime crosses state lines. The very nature of many white collar crimes means that the activity or conduct involved is highly likely to cross state lines. Computer crimes, which are becoming more and more frequent in the 21st century, almost always cross state lines because of the presence of the internet. Banking offenses and anything involving money qualifies for the same basic reason. Why does it matter if the case “goes federal?” It matters because federal law enforcement agencies typically have much better resources than state agencies and typically investigate a case for months until they are certain they have enough evidence to secure a conviction.
Penalties and Punishment for White Collar Crimes
Do not make the mistake of thinking either the state or federal criminal justice systems are soft on white collar crimes. You can be sentenced to the same lengthy prison term for a white collar crime that someone might receive for a violent or drug related crime. For example, at the federal level the crime of embezzlement, a common white collar crime, can be charged as a serious felony. If convicted, you could face a period of incarceration in a federal prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000. The federal system uses sentencing guidelines to determine the amount of prison time a defendant receives. Therefore, it can vary based on the defendant’s criminal history, or lack thereof. In the State of Tennessee, embezzlement is included in the state’s general theft statute. Theft constitutes a Class B felony in Tennessee if the value of the property or services stolen is $60,000 or more. The punishment for a Class B felony in Tennessee includes imprisonment for a term of not less than eight years and not more than 30 years, and a fine not to exceed $25,000.
Do You Need a Criminal Lawyer?
Absolutely! No only might you be facing a lengthy prison term of convicted, but your career and future are likely at stake as well. Because many white collar crimes are financially motivated, a conviction can destroy your future employment prospects, even if you avoid prison. If you are under investigation for a white collar crime, or have been charged with one, in the State of Tennessee it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Tennessee criminal lawyer right away.
If you have been charged with a white collar crime in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with the experienced Tennessee criminal defense lawyers at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.