White-Collar Crime: The Crash Course


White collar crimes describe a collection of non-violent offenses that are motivated by financial gain. These crimes are generally committed by business and government professionals. Although white collar crimes are a common occurrence in the modern world, prosecutors often find it difficult to hold perpetrators accountable for the crimes due to the use of sophisticated means of concealing their activities through a series of complex transactions.

Sentences Associated with White Collar Crimes

White collar crime penalties often include fines, home detention, community confinement, paying the cost of prosecution, forfeitures, restitution, supervised release, and imprisonment. The extent of white collar crime penalties vary greatly on the actual crime committed. Reduction of sentences is possible if the defendant takes responsibility for the crime and assists the authorities in their investigation.

The following is a breakdown of penalties for the most common white collar crimes.

Insider Trading

Insider trading is a type of securities fraud where participants partake in an “organized scheme” to trade on confidential information. Under federal laws, this crime carries a minimum sentence of 15 to 21 and up to 20 years. Fines of up to $5 million for individuals and up to $25 million for a business entity can also be assessed.

Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud can generally be divided into what is known in the industry as “soft fraud” and “hard fraud.”

  • Soft fraud occurs when a person exaggerates an existing claim, such as overstating the damages caused by a car accident. This crime is consider to be a misdemeanor that is punishable by fines, jail time of up to one year, community service, and probation.
  • Hard fraud occurs when a person causes or fabricates a loss for the purpose of obtaining insurance payments. Generally, this crime is considered a felony and it is punishable by incarceration in federal prison for up to 20 years depending on the amount of money involved.

Embezzlement

Federal embezzlement laws are divided into categories depending on the type of money and property stolen. Some of these federal embezzlement categories and their penalties are:

  • Public money, property, or records: If the worth stolen is above $1,000 the crime carries up to a 10 year prison sentence, a $250,000 fine, or both.
  • Counterfeiting Tools and Material: Embezzling items in this category can result in a $250,000 fine, 10 years in prison or both.
  • Embezzlement in connection with health care: If $100 or more are stolen from a health care benefit plan, the crime is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000, up to 10 years in prison, or both.
  • Embezzlement by employees of a bank, lending, credit, or insurance institution: Penalties for more than $1,000 include a fine of up to $1,000,000, up to 30 years in prison, or both. Penalties for amounts less than $1,000 include a fine up to $100,000, up to one year in jail, or both.
Fines for Organizations: Felony convictions result in a fine that is the greater of the amount specified in the law setting forth the offense, twice the amount gained or lost, or $500,000. Misdemeanor convictions carry a fine of up to $200,000.

Tax Evasion

Any person who willfully attempts to evade or defeat any tax imposed will be guilty of a felony and can be imprisoned for up to 5 years, fined up to $250,000 for individuals ($500,000 for corporations), or both. If found guilty of tax evasion, the perpetrator can also bear the costs of prosecution.

Money Laundering

Money laundering occurs when a person tries to hide illegal obtained funds by “cleaning” the money through seemingly legal transactions.

Misdemeanor convictions of money laundering typically come with fines of up to a couple thousand dollars. However, a federal conviction for this crime can result in fines of up to $500,000 or double the amount of money that was laundered, whichever is greater. Generally, those convicted of this crime can expect a prison sentence of at least a year, but enhancements on this crime can increase prison sentences to 35 years or more.

 

If you have been accused of violating a federal white collar crime and would like legal assistance, contact a criminal defense lawyer through FindLaw to ensure you are properly represented in your case. Learn more about white collar crimes and other fraud and financial crimes through FindLaw.