Wilmington White Collar Crimes Attorney

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A Wilmington white collar crimes attorney is vital for anyone charged with these offenses. White collar crimes are a broad category of criminal activity that generally relies on fraud, deceit, and concealment rather than on violence or physical force. Increasingly, white collar crimes are heavily focused in the digital sphere.

These crimes also frequently cross state lines or occur in more than one state, which is why the federal government is heavily involved in their investigation and prosecution. It can be intimidating to face the significant resources of those institutions, but the right lawyer can help you understand what you face and put forth a strong defense if needed.

At the W. James Payne Law Firm, our talented attorney has vast experience defending those accused of white collar crimes. We understand how complicated these cases can be and know how to identify the elements that are crucial to a strong defense. If you’ve been charged or are being investigated for a white collar crime, we may be able to help.

Common Types of White Collar Crimes

White collar is a term used to describe a wide variety of criminal activity. These crimes are often financial in nature. They frequently involve using fraud and other forms of deceit to steal funds or gain access to funds.

In particular, financial institutions and government agencies are frequently targets of these crimes, although individuals may also be targeted, particularly in the case of identity theft. As more and more financial concerns are being handled digitally, there is regularly a digital component to many of these offenses.

Some of the more common forms of federal white collar crimes include:

  • Laundering of Monetary Interests. Money laundering involves the process of attempting to conceal funds procured from unlawful activity. This can be done in a number of ways and is often paired with charges related to fraud or drug crimes.

The penalties will vary based on a variety of different factors specific to the accusation. Penalties could include up to 20 years in prison and fines of as much as $500,000 or double the value of the property, funds, or instruments used in the crime.

  • Mail Fraud. The use of the postal service or private carriers in a scheme or attempt to defraud someone is unlawful. Because this requires some attempt to defraud, these charges will often be paired with another form of fraud, such as bank fraud, credit card fraud, or healthcare fraud. A defendant found guilty of mail fraud could be fined up to $1,000,000 or spend up to 30 years in prison.
  • Fraud by Wire, Radio, or Television. Similarly to mail fraud, wire fraud is charged when electronic communications, including the Internet and email, are used in an attempt to defraud another person or entity. These charges are also often added to another form of fraud. This crime involves the same potential penalties as mail fraud.
  • Fraud and Related Activity in Connection With Computers. There are further restrictions on how computers and the internet may be used to perpetrate fraud schemes. These charges are often how activities like hacking and phishing are addressed. The sentence for this crime can vary based on the details of the offense.
  • Identity Theft. It is illegal to make use of someone’s personal identifying information. Often, this is done for financial gain through fraudulently acting as that individual, but there may be other purposes as well.
  • Insider Trading. When someone trades stock on the basis of information that they are able to access that is not available to the general public, it may be insider trading.
  • Criminal Violation of a Copyright Infringement. There are fair use laws that allow some level of use of copyrighted material. However, oftentimes, the use of copyrighted material, particularly when presented as your own for commercial gain, is unlawful.
  • Embezzlement. When someone entrusted with the use of funds, often for their own benefit or for the benefit of others, directs the money away from their purpose and to personal gain, it may be embezzlement.
  • Tax Evasion. Willfully attempting to evade or defeat taxes that are rightfully owed can result in a felony conviction. Corporations can be fined up to $500,000 for this offense, while individuals can be fined as much as $100,000. Those convicted could also spend up to five years in prison.
  • Bank Fraud. Attempts to defraud banks and other financial institutions through a scheme or other means can result in serious penalties.
  • Securities Fraud. Similar to insider trading, there is a broad range of ways that someone may use deceptive practices related to the stock market or commodities market.
  • Credit Card Fraud. Using credit cards fraudulently is its own crime, and depending on the specifics of the fraud, it’s possible that other charges, such as identity theft, wire fraud, and mail fraud, could be involved as well.
  • Healthcare Fraud. Healthcare fraud can take many different forms, but schemes to defraud healthcare programs are illegal and can result in stiff penalties.
  • Insurance Fraud. Misrepresenting or making false claims to an insurance company can result in charges of insurance fraud. Because these claims are often handled by mail and on the Internet, there is also the potential for related charges as well.
  • Mortgage Fraud. It is illegal to make false statements that are meant to influence a mortgage decision.

There is often quite a bit of overlap in different white collar crime statutes. It’s not uncommon for several overlapping charges to be filed at once. In particular, charges like mail fraud or wire fraud can be added to other charges, thus increasing the potential penalties that could come with a conviction. If you’re facing multiple federal charges, it’s important to have a lawyer explain the specifics of the possible penalties you could be facing.

Who Investigates White Collar Crimes?

While there is some overlap with state laws, which could result in local charges as well, the majority of white collar crime investigations are carried out at the federal level. The agencies investigating are likely to work closely with state and local authorities as well. In particular, when there are special taskforces set up to target a particular form of white collar crime, there may be a collaboration between the federal and local levels.

Some of the institutions involved in investigating white collar crimes include:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI is often involved in the investigation of most variations of white collar crimes. This is because they often have the most sophisticated investigation techniques that can be used to gather evidence of a crime.
  • Department of Justice (DOJ). As the prosecutorial arm of the federal government, the DOJ is often involved in the process of investigation, working with the other departments that are more narrowly focused.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Tax-related crimes, such as tax evasion and tax fraud, and issues with illicit transactions are investigated by the IRS.
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC is responsible for overseeing the securities industry. They primarily investigate issues related to insider trading, securities fraud, and other investment and market-related crimes.
  • Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) This department primarily analyzes financial transactions in an attempt to identify unlawful behavior, such as money laundering.

State Agencies That May Investigate White Collar Crimes

Federal organizations will often collaborate with some state-level agencies in North Carolina as well, including:

  • North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). This is the primary organization for the investigation of white collar crimes within the state. They work with local law enforcement agencies and are able to investigate complicated financial schemes.
  • North Carolina Office of the State Auditor. This department can be helpful in uncovering fraud and other white collar crimes involved in state agencies and programs.
  • North Carolina Department of Justice (NCDOJ). As the primary prosecutor at the state level and led by the Attorney General, the NCDOJ is often involved in the investigation process.

White Collar Crime Penalties

The penalties for white collar crimes are specific to the crimes that offenders have been convicted of. Additionally, other factors will be considered, such as whether the person is a repeat offender. For many white collar crimes, prison time is a strong possibility. Additionally, there is likely to be a fine. Given the financial nature of so many white collar crimes, it’s also possible that restitution will need to be made for the financial harm that was done.

If you’ve been charged with a white collar crime and are wondering about the extent of the penalties you could face, it’s important to speak with a white collar crime attorney. They should be able to assess your case and help you understand the scope of what you may be facing.

A Plea Deal May Be an Option for Many Defendants

The overwhelming majority of white collar crimes will never make it to court. Most of these cases are settled through a plea deal before going to trial. While many defendants are hesitant about forgoing a trial at first, it’s important to realize that there can be some advantages to considering this option.

The reason that prosecutors are so willing to consider plea deals is that it is an effective tool for managing overcrowding in the courts. If every case were to go to trial, there would be unreasonable delays in hearing most people’s cases. A plea deal, though, allows a prosecutor to ease some of that pressure by offering someone a lesser charge or penalties in exchange for a guilty plea.

While you may be inclined to reject the idea and wish to defend yourself in court, it’s important to realize that the benefit of a plea deal is that it avoids the risks of a trial. This often involves agreeing to much less, in terms of penalties, than if you were to receive a guilty verdict of the original charge in court.

Even the most strongly presented defenses can sometimes return a guilty verdict, so there can be some benefit to the certainty that comes with a plea deal. Federal trials are often lengthy and stressful, which may also influence a defendant’s decision to choose an agreement with the prosecution.

If you are considering a plea, your lawyer is responsible for negotiating the strongest offer they can get on your behalf. They can also advise you on how to consider the options you have, as well as the benefits and risks of each choice. Ultimately, however, whether to take a plea or go to court will be your decision.

A Strong Defense for White Collar Crimes

White collar crimes are unique in the criminal code. Their impact isn’t as easily identifiable as violent crimes or other property crimes. They are often investigated by organizations and task forces dedicated to only these concerns. While there are some state crimes that mirror the federal statutes, they will largely be addressed by the federal government. White collar crimes are typically dependent upon deceit rather than brute force.

The unique nature of white collar crimes makes them particularly difficult to defend against. That’s why it’s critical that anyone charged with these crimes has the right lawyer representing them. Defendants need a lawyer who has not only legal knowledge regarding these crimes but also experience in defending against them. W. James Payne of the W. James Payne Law Firm has significant experience in these types of cases.

For more than 30 years, we’ve worked with clients facing a variety of serious charges, including white collar crimes. We understand what it means to represent you in federal court. If a resolution can be found through the negotiation of a plea deal, we have experience achieving agreements that work for our clients.

However, we are just as prepared to go before the court if that’s what’s necessary. If you’ve been charged with or are being investigated for a white collar crime, contact us today.