You’ve heard the term “white collar crime” before, but what exactly is a white collar crime?
A white collar crime is the general term for a wide variety of crimes that are nonviolent, financially motivated, and often use deceit to achieve their purpose. People in a business or government setting are usually the most common perpetrators, and penalties can range from incarceration and high fines to restitution, community service, and probation.
Just because white collar crimes don’t involve violence doesn’t mean they are not serious. In fact, white collar crimes are taken so seriously that there are both state and federal laws against them. So you could be tried for the same crime twice – under Minnesota state law and under federal law.
So it’s important to understand the different offenses, laws, and penalties surrounding white collar crimes in the event that you find yourself charged or under investigation. The best way to do this and ensure your defense is as strong as possible is to work with a skilled Minnesota white collar crimes attorney.
Common White Collar Crimes
Most white collar crimes involve some sort of fraud. Fraud is a broad crime that involves using deception for financial gain. Let’s take a look at some common white collar crimes in Minnesota.
Securities fraud. Securities fraud can also be called investment fraud or stock fraud. It’s when someone decides to buy or sell stocks, securities, or commodities based on false information, which often leads to big losses. Insider trading is also a form of securities fraud. Insider trading is when someone has information not available to the public, and buys or sells something based on that information.
Embezzlement. When someone commits embezzlement, they are stealing money from someone they work for. The most common type of embezzlement is when an employee takes money from their employer by transferring funds into their own personal account. Embezzlement also happens when you hire someone and they improperly misuse your funds.
Tax evasion. If you attempt to somehow avoid taxes that you are required to pay, you can be charged with tax evasion. Tax evasion could be as simple as putting false information on your tax return or as involved illegally transferring property. Individuals, businesses, and trusts are all capable of committing tax evasion.
Money laundering. Money laundering is when an individual or business attempts to hide dirty money – money obtained illegally – by making it appear as if it came from a clean, legitimate source. In order to launder money, the offender first has to deposit the dirty money into an account. Then the money has to be separated from its illegal source so that the money is difficult to trace. That money then has to be integrated or mixed with legally obtained money.
Extortion. Extortion is a crime where someone attempts to gain money or property through threats, intimidation, or force. The threats could be threats of violence against you or your loved ones, damage to property, ruining your reputation, or going to law enforcement. Blackmail – the act of threatening to expose someone’s private affairs to the public – is a form of extortion. Offering “protection” is also another for of extortion.
Ponzi schemes. Everyone thinks they have the next best thing for you to invest in, but many of those “investment opportunities” are scams. Ponzi schemes are fraudulent investment operations where people get paid by finding new investors as opposed to earning profits. Sometimes Ponzi schemes start as legitimate businesses but turn into a fraudulent business when that business doesn’t get its expected returns.
Penalties for White Collar Crimes
The penalties for white collar crimes will often depend on the value of the money or property that was taken, along with your criminal history. In general, the more you take, the more time you’ll have to spend in prison and the higher the fine you will have to pay.
If you embezzle $500 to $1,000, you could be punished with $3,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, or both. If you embezzle over $35,000, you’re looking at fines up to $100,000 and up to 20 years in jail.
Extortion can earn you $10,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison. The same goes for money laundering.
As you can see, white collar crimes are taken seriously in Minnesota. To protect yourself and your business, you need to contact a Minnesota white collar crime attorney as soon as you are charged with a crime or learn that you are under investigation.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).