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Understanding the process for white-collar criminal charges

Though white-collar crimes tend to be nonviolent, they can still have lasting, negative effects on the people involved. Therefore, white-collar criminal charges hold very strong penalties.

Parties who face these types of charges should be aware of a few important aspects of the law and the process.

Filing charges

Both the victims and government are able to file charges in cases of white-collar crimes. The victim can file a civil case, while the government is able to file either civil or asset forfeiture cases. Civil cases seek reimbursement for the missing assets or funds, while asset forfeitures seize all assets acquired with the illegal funds. Once the parties file the claim, a hearing takes place where the courts hear arguments from both sides and review the evidence to make a judgment.

Types of offenses

There are a number of acts that the government classifies as white-collar crimes. A few of the more common types include:

  • Embezzlement
  • Money laundering
  • Corporate fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Mortgage fraud
  • Securities fraud

These and a wide range of other activities constitute white-collar offenses. If the act involves securing the funds or assets of others without their permission or utilizing dishonest tactics, then it likely has some white-collar crime aspects.

Possible penalties

Penalties can range depending upon the severity of the offense, but usually include fines and possible jail time. There are sentencing guidelines that the courts use in making such decisions; however, the judge still has some discretion in the matter and can alter the sentences within reason. Therefore, it is important for defendants to try to build strong arguments that help prove their innocence or cast doubt on the argument of the prosecution. Considering the weight of such cases, it can be very beneficial for someone who faces white-collar crime charges to work with an attorney. 

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