White collar crimes are generally committed by individuals or businesses for financial gain using non-violent means. These offenses generally involve an element of deception, misrepresentation, or deceit, which may lead to severe consequences under federal law.
If you were accused of financial crimes, an Austin white collar lawyer could help you minimize the impact these charges have on your life. By enlisting the assistance of experienced legal counsel, you could protect your interests and work to build a credible defense.
What is a White-Collar Crime?
White-collar crimes occur when individuals acquire money or property that belongs to other people or to which they have no legal right. In many cases, businesspeople or professionals use their positions to engage in deceit for personal financial gain. Regardless of the motivations or means of a white-collar offense, a conviction could lead to harsh repercussions.
There are many different white-collar crimes, including but not limited to:
- Fraud, including mail, credit card, bank, mortgage, and health care
- Money laundering
- Identity theft
- Computer-related financial crimes
Although white collar crimes also exist under state law, federal prosecutions often occur when the transactions involve interstate commerce or occur in multiple states. This could occur via computer technology, the U.S. mail, or other telecommunications devices. Because federal court involves unique procedures, individuals accused of violating U.S. law may wish to hire an Austin white collar attorney who has specific experience handling federal cases.
Federal Criminal Conspiracy Charges
Conspiracy is one of the most common federal charges and often accompanies financially-motivated offenses. Under 18 United States Code § 371, a conspiracy occurs when two or more persons agree to commit any crime against the U.S. or defraud the federal government or any of its agencies. At least one person must take some action to carry out the criminal offense. Therefore, it is conceivable that individuals could face conspiracy charges even if they never took any steps in furtherance of the conspiracy or they only were tangentially involved.
Those accused of conspiracy to commit a criminal offense could face years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Some conspiracy charges can result in the same penalties as those for the underlying criminal offenses.
Potential Penalties for Federal White-Collar Crimes
Federal sentencing guidelines typically provide for harsher penalties than under state law. The means used to carry out an offense, the number of people impacted, the financial losses, and prior criminal history are all factors that may influence sentencing. The potential penalties can include:
- Prison sentences
- Restitution or return of misappropriated funds
- Court costs
A conviction for federal white-collar crimes can also have serious collateral repercussions. Individuals could lose certain civil rights permanently, such as the right to own or carry firearms. Furthermore, professionals may lose their licenses and become unable to return to their previous industries.
Additionally, a permanent criminal record will appear on background checks, which can cut off access to certain jobs, restrict access to federal student loans, and create difficulties obtaining rentals or mortgages. Because the consequences of a conviction can be severe, seeking advice from an Austin white collar attorney may be highly beneficial.
Work with an Austin White Collar Attorney
If you face arrest, indictment, or an investigation into alleged federal white collar criminal activity, it may be in your best interests to immediately contact a dedicated criminal defense attorney. Involving an Austin white collar lawyer early in the proceedings could have a positive impact on the potential resolution of your case.
Even if you want to cooperate with federal authorities and feel that you have nothing to hide, you may still wish to seek legal advice first. Otherwise, you risk unintentionally incriminating yourself or providing evidence that authorities could use against you in a federal criminal prosecution.