Potential Charges and Penalties for White Collar Crimes
While essentially financial in nature, white collar crimes have numerous associated charges. In many cases the charges may be combined or stacked by the prosecution to build a larger case against you, increasing the potential punishment if convicted. Common examples of white collar crimes and the potential penalties they carry are:
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) bolstered federal statute 18 U.S.C. 1030 to cover numerous crimes associated with computer use and access. These crimes involve hacking, illegal downloading, spamming, and others. Computer crimes may be only one aspect of a larger crime; oftentimes computer crimes are charged alongside other federal crimes. The range of crimes varies greatly, as well as the range of penalties.
Financial Institution Fraud (FIF)
Commonly referred to as Bank Fraud, Financial Institution Fraud is the targeting of a bank or other financial institution to commit fraud. This could include many crimes such as: identity theft, credit card fraud, use of counterfeit checks, submitting false information to a bank to obtain a loan or credit, embezzlement, and more. Depending on the circumstances specific to your case and how well you present your defense strategy, you could face up to thirty (30) years in prison and be subject to a fine up to $1,000,000.
Insider trading occurs when someone breaches the fiduciary trust by using private (confidential) information of publicly-held companies to influence their decision to buy, sell, or trade securities, stocks, shares, and bonds. Typically, insider trading occurs at one of three levels:
- Corporate insiders (usually upper-level management, but not always) who buy, sell, or trade their stock after learning confidential information.
- Associates who have been tipped off (‘tippees’) by the corporate insiders who, after learning the information, buy, sell, or trade their stock as well.
- Employees working in conjunction with the company (through perhaps a bank, printing house, or brokerage house) receive the information through their position and use it to buy, sell, or trade in the company.
Due to the numerous factors involved with insider trading cases, penalties and punishments can vary greatly but may include fines reaching $5,000,000 and up to twenty (20) years in federal prison.
Money Laundering (under 18 U.S.C. § 1956, 1957) statutes prohibit the spending and concealment of illegal proceeds. Penalties may be as severe as up to twenty (20) years in prison with fines of up to $500,000.
No one likes taxes, but willfully choosing not to pay them is a federal crime that carries significant penalties. Federal statute 26 U.S.C. 7201 states that any person attempting to evade payment of their taxes (either through non-payment or under-payment) may face up to five (5) years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) charges have become used far more frequently over the past few years. RICO charges are extremely serious and carry very heavy penalties. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1961, if the U.S. Attorney’s Office can connect more than one qualifying state or federal charge to a criminal enterprise, you may be charged under the RICO statutes. Convictions carry up to twenty (20) years in prison and a host of financial and other penalties.