The elements required of a prosecutor to prove a white-collar crime depend on the particular crime. For example, every crime requires a mental element, or an element proving you knew what you were doing when you allegedly committed the crime. However, that mental element can be something as simple as being involved in the first place, which could be considered criminal negligence.
Another example is lying to the FBI, which is in of itself a crime. If at any point you were not entirely truthful with any investigator, whether intentionally or unintentionally, you could be charged, and that charge could be used as an element by the prosecutor. These are things an experienced, knowledgeable white-collar defense attorney can help you with.
For instance, an attorney will know to tell you not to speak to investigators if doing so would lead you to incriminate yourself. If you go ahead and talk to an investigator anyway, and you wind up lying, they may be able to find you guilty of lying to the investigator even if they cannot find you guilty of the white-collar crime. It’s not necessarily the primary allegation that gets a person in trouble. Often, it’s the cover-up for that allegation. Your attorney is there to prevent that from happening. They will help you reason through the issue so that you can make the best decision for you and for your family.
What Potential Defenses Could I Use if I am Charged With a White-Collar Crime? If I Didn’t Know I was Involved, Can That Serve as a Plausible Defense?
Yes, not knowing you were involved in a white-collar crime can absolutely be used as an element of your defense. Knowledge of involvement always has to be proven by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt. However, they may claim that your lack of knowledge constituted negligence, and argue that not knowing isn’t a suitable defense because you should have known.
These are all very factually dependent issues. Still, there are multiple types of defenses against white-collar criminal allegations. Obviously, if you didn’t know about the crime, or if you didn’t commit the crime, you can use those facts as defenses.
Other defenses can include very simple facts. For instance, if you can prove that you weren’t physically present for the crime, you can use that fact as a defense. I am sure most people have heard the term “alibi”. If a bad check was passed or a wrongful tax document was submitted from the US on a particular day, and you were out of the country on vacation on that day, it obviously couldn’t have been you. Those are a few of the simple types of defenses that can be presented in a white-collar case, depending on the factual circumstances of the case.
What are the Potential Penalties for White-Collar Crimes in Arizona or at the Federal Level? Are There Also Potential Financial Penalties Involved in Sentencing?
To answer the second question first, yes, white-collar criminal sentencing can involve financial penalties. Oftentimes, the financial penalties are worse than the jail or prison penalties.
There are many financial crimes that have restitution requirements. This is the case in many different types of crimes. However, when it comes to, for instance, assault and battery, restitution is usually limited to medical bills. Depending on the crime, the restitution required for a financial crime could be repayment of millions and millions of dollars, which could be held over a person’s head for decades.
So, yes, financial penalties do exist in white-collar crime, and they can be very stiff. When it comes to other penalties, such as jail time, sentencing guidelines depend on the level of financial crime involved. The charges themselves can range from simple misdemeanor to serious felonies. Jail time is usually only included in white-collar sentencing when the case is more serious.
If I am a First-Time Offender Convicted of a White-Collar Crime, Will Most Prosecutors be Willing to Offer Plea Deals or Drop Charges to a Lesser Offense?
If you are a first-time white-collar offender, it is highly probable that a prosecutor will be willing to offer you a plea deal or reduced charges. This obviously depends on the circumstances of the crime and of your case. However, on the state level in Arizona, many white-collar crimes—even relatively serious felonies—leave room for lenient sentencing.
For example, white-collar classes V felonies in Arizona are typically probation-eligible. Oftentimes, depending on the severity of the crime, there is room to reduce more serious white-collar felonies (like a class III felony), so that a person is probation-eligible.
These matters are generally discussed during a client’s Case Strategy Meeting. During that phase, we will ensure that you understand the charges against you and walk you through all of the potential steps and proceedings related to those charges. We will also start developing a defense strategy and make sure that you have the right mitigation documents.
This is why it is so important that you speak to a lawyer as soon as you think white-collar charges may be raised against you. The sooner you meet with an attorney, the sooner you can come up with a cogent, smart case strategy. The sooner this happens, the better your chances of being able to present the best case possible, even before indictment.
With the help of an experienced white-collar defense attorney, you may be able to get some sort of a settlement or plea agreement prior to indictment. This would certainly help your case.
Is it Possible to Have a White-Collar Conviction Expunged or Set Aside in Arizona?
I think most people do not understand expungement properly. In no circumstance will a crime be completely wiped off your record. In Arizona, if you receive a felony charge, you usually lose many civil rights, like the right of vote or the right to carry a firearm. After a certain period of time, there is a process you can go through to restore some of those civil rights, including being able to vote and own a gun again.
I have assisted a number of clients through that reinstatement of rights process. However, not everyone is eligible to have their rights reinstated. It depends entirely on the circumstances of their crime.
Why is it Critically Important to Hire an Attorney Who Has Specific Experience in Defending White-Collar Crimes in Arizona?
If you are facing white-collar criminal charges in Arizona, it is essential to hire an attorney with experience defending clients against those types of charges in that specific state. You want to make sure that the attorney you hire understands the issues that are related to the financial crimes you are being accused of. If an attorney does not have specific experience with white-collar crime in Arizona, you should not hire them to defend you against charges of same. If you needed cancer treatment, you wouldn’t hire a podiatrist. The same logic applies to law.
In order to deal with a high-stakes, high-level problem, you need to consult a specialist. An attorney with white-collar defense experience will know how white-collar criminal proceedings work, and will be able to use that knowledge to your advantage whenever possible. They will know how white-collar crimes are proven, and will have an underlying knowledge of accounting and finances in order to understand what the prosecution’s theory is.
Sometimes a prosecutorial agency will overcharge a case. This means that they are going out on a limb and extending a wide reach on whether they can actually prove the charges in question. An experienced white-collar defense attorney will be able to spot an overcharge, and will understand how to best attack the prosecution’s argument in order to prove that their case does not hold water.
In the end, this is simply a matter of doing your best to ensure that you are hiring the right person for your particular case. An attorney with white-collar defense experience will be better suited to defending against white-collar charges.
For more information on White-Collar Crimes In Arizona, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (480) 637-0240 today.