5 Common White Collar Crime Myths

White collar crime attorney sitting with client

White-collar crime is a phrase most people are familiar with, and it comes with some untrue assumptions. White-collar crime is often seen as a crime limited to the rich and famous, who rarely see consequences. Perhaps you picture, if any consequences, a brief stint in a “country club prison”, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Just because every day white-collar crimes don’t make the sort of media spectacle and splash that violent crimes do, doesn’t mean they don’t happen just as often and carry harsh penalties. 

Many of these assumptions stem from the fact that the media isn’t really portraying the reality of white-collar crimes, only the ones that are perpetrated by the ultra-rich and ultra-famous. White-collar crimes encompass a wide range of crimes, but the hallmark is that they are nonviolent and financially motivated. Most white-collar crimes are a form of fraud, and they can be committed by anyone, rich and famous or otherwise. Common types of white-collar crime include bank fraud, bankruptcy fraud, credit card fraud, embezzlement, healthcare fraud, identity theft, insurance fraud, money laundering, mortgage fraud, telemarketing fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud.

  1. “Ordinary” People Don’t Commit White Collar Crime.

Just because only the white-collar crimes of the ultra-wealthy and famous are discussed in the media doesn’t mean they’re only perpetrated by people with significant assets or status. The misconception stems from the fact that white-collar crimes involve financial assets, so many people assume that only wealthy people with access to large amounts of money can carry out such crimes. However, anybody, even people in blue-collar jobs, can carry out white-collar crimes. Most white-collar crimes don’t involve millions of dollars and wide-spread fraud affecting hundreds of victims. Many involve comparatively small amounts of money with a single victim, which can result in asset forfeiture anyway.

  1. White Collar Crime is Easy to Get Away With.

While people may think that violent offenses are more closely watched and investigated, and white-collar crimes often fly under the radar, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are fewer government agencies tasked with investigating violent crimes when compared to white-collar crime. In addition to local police, The Department of Justice, and Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission, and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network also investigate white-collar crimes, and they have vast resources with which to do so. Authorities are more vigilant than ever in investigating and catching white-collar crime, and technological advances have the made identification and prosecution of such crimes much easier.

  1. White Collar Crimes Are Treated Differently Than Other Crimes.

One major distinction between white-collar crimes and other crimes is that white-collar crimes are, by definition, nonviolent. Therefore, white-collar criminals won’t receive sentences like violent offenders often do. However, that doesn’t mean that they are investigated any less, prosecuted more leniently, or go without penalties. White-collar crimes often result in long prison sentences and hefty fines.

White-collar criminals often go to minimum security prisons because their crimes were non-violent, but these prisons are far from a country club. There is still round-the-clock supervision and solitary confinement. Nobody is playing tennis or hanging out by the pool. There is no champagne or caviar. The only distinction is that, in most cases, a white-collar criminal won’t be housed beside violent offenders. Even so, there is no guarantee that the offender won’t be placed in a maximum or medium security prison, just a higher probability.

  1. White Collar Criminals Don’t Receive Jail Time.

White-collar crimes can carry extremely harsh penalties. The federal sentencing guidelines give judges very limited discretion in sentencing white-collar crimes. Presiding judges often have a set range in which they can sentence defendants, and they can’t go below that number even if they think it would better serve the interests of justice to do so. Many white-collar crimes carry a mandatory minimum sentence, so in some cases, it is virtually impossible to avoid jail time. These penalties increase substantially depending on the amount of economic loss on the part of the victims of the crime and the number of victims involved. 

  1. Once the Criminal Charges Are Resolved, The Consequences are Over.

Once the white-collar criminal case is resolved, the defendant’s stresses don’t necessarily come to an end. It’s common that victims of white-collar crime file civil lawsuits to directly recover financially for their losses, and sometimes the government will file or join in on civil lawsuits for white-collar crime. While civil lawsuits won’t result in any jail time, any civil penalties the victims or the government recover will add to the criminal fines stemming from the criminal case. For example, if a defendant receives six-months of jail time and a $5,000 fine in criminal court, they could be on the hook for another $5,000, or often more, in civil court.

Even when criminal and civil cases are out of the way, there are still lasting effects on a white-collar criminal’s record, especially when the crime they were charged with was a felony. This can impact their ability to find employment, secure housing, receive loans, vote, and access government services. In fact, many employers are more reluctant to hire white-collar criminals than they are violent offenders. This is because violent crime is often personally motivated and targeted, whereas white-collar crimes carry a stigma that the person did not commit the crime for any personal reason and employers may worry that the offender will commit fraud again.

El Paso White Collar Crime Defense Attorney

White-collar crimes are just as serious as any other form of crime. They’re often prosecuted mercilessly with the potential for severe penalties. That’s why it’s paramount to act fast and fight the charges relentlessly with an experienced white-collar crime defense attorney by your side. You need an advocate who will zealously fight for you, your rights, and your freedom.

El Paso’s Benjamin Law Firm offers comprehensive criminal defense, civil litigation, and aviation law services. With near two decades of experience in the field, name partner Brock Benjamin is one of very few attorneys who is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Many attorneys may have experience in criminal law, but few can say they specialize in criminal law like Attorney Benjamin. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Benjamin has insider insight into the tricks and tactics that prosecutors use, and he uses that experience to best defend his clients. 

Our office is based in El Paso, but we proudly serve clients across the Lone Star State, New Mexico and Arizona. Contact us or call us at (915)-221-7462 as soon as possible so we can get started planning your defense. También podemos ayudarte en español.

Posted in: White Collar Crimes