White collar crime is not a specific crime, but a term used to identify crimes that are driven (primarily) by financial desires and obtained (typically) through nonviolent criminal activity and allegedly committed (most often) by business professionals. Like many other criminal activities, a white collar crime can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If you have been charged with a crime, you need a criminal defense attorney who understands and knows the law regarding white collar crime generally and the alleged offense specifically.
Jason English, a former Assistant District Attorney with the Travis County District Attorney's Office, has direct experience with these crimes from both the perspective of the prosecutor and -- now -- as a criminal defense attorney. He uses this knowledge as leverage in your white collar crime defense.
What are some of the most common white collar crimes in Texas?
White collar crimes can either be state or federal crimes, depending on the circumstances. Some of the more common white collar state crimes in Texas include:
- Larceny or Theft
- Identity theft
- Forgery or Counterfeiting
- Tax Evasion
- Money Laundering
- Racketeering or Extortion
- Fraud, including bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, credit card fraud, securities fraud, mortgage fraud.
What are the factors considered for the sentencing of a white collar crime conviction?
Proving white collar crime is in many cases difficult, especially with an attorney who knows how to provide a strong defense and weaken the prosecutor's case. But if you are convicted of a white collar crime, the sentencing judge will consider several factors. This is where your attorney will again prove beneficial because he or she can put forth a good argument -- depending on the facts -- for mitigation.
Factors a judge considers include but are not limited to:
- Texas sentencing guidelines
- Any prior criminal record
- The severity of the crime
- The circumstances, i.e., what caused you to commit the crime in the first place? Was there a life crisis?
- Your role in your family and in your community.
What are the penalties for a white collar crime?
There are a number of penalties you can expect if you are convicted of a white collar crime in Texas. These penalties include but are not limited to:
- Jail and fines according to the classification of the crime as a misdemeanor or felony.
- Disgorgement, which is returning any profits obtained via the crime
- Seizure of property
- Civil lawsuits by victims of the crime
- Deportation after serving the sentence if a non-U.S. citizen.
Other consequences that materialize after you pay your debt to society include things like difficulty finding a job, obtaining housing, applying for loans. You can expect a conviction of either a misdemeanor or felony white collar crime to impact your life profoundly. Because of this and the severity of the penalties, you should always fight the charges. At best, your attorney may be successful at getting your case dismissed. At least, your attorney may be able to get the charges reduced or obtain a plea deal that works to your benefit.
How are white collar crimes defended in Texas?
Criminal defense of white collar crimes requires a thorough understanding of the facts and the law. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will defend your case from multiple angles. Some of these angles include affirmative defenses, general defenses, and constitutional violations.
Affirmative Defenses to White Collar Crime
There are a number of affirmative defenses that could be used in your white collar crime defense so long as the facts and circumstances support it. These defenses include:
- Duress, where you were threatened by immediate and inescapable harm, even death if you did not commit the act in question.
- Entrapment, where a government official provides you with an opportunity to commit a crime that under any other circumstances you would not have committed.
- Mistake of fact, where you reasonably believed the facts to be something other than what they actually were, but if what you believed had been true, you would be innocent.
If any of these defenses are invoked, usually the defendant admits to committing the thing but provides a defense that justifies its commission.
General Defenses to White Collar Crime
General defense can include a defense as basic as demonstrating the defendant did not do the thing of which he or she is accused of doing. It could also mean weakening the State's case by proving elements of the crime are not present.
Texas white collar crimes usually involve some type of dishonesty, deception, or misrepresentation. But it's much more than that. In Texas, each white collar crime is accompanied by its own specific elements that must each be identified and proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If an element of the crime is not proven, then a conviction cannot follow.
For instance, in most white collar crimes, the element of knowing and/or intending to commit the crime must be present. If a person is not mentally culpable, then the charge can be successfully challenged.
Constitutional Violations & Evidence Proving White Collar Crime
Prior to or during your arrest, the police officer -- or any other law enforcement agent for that matter -- must abide by strict rules and regulations. Any departure from proper compliance could provide your attorney with a means to develop your defense and limit any evidence against you.
Common constitutional violations that can be used to suppress evidence include:
- Improper search and seizure
- Failure to provide your Miranda warning
- Intimidation or coercion to force you to speak.
Speak to a White Collar Crime Attorney in Austin, TX
An arrest for a white collar crime can be emotionally and mentally taxing. Knowing your rights and having someone advocate aggressively and completely on your behalf is essential to making it through this tough period. Speak to a resourceful, skilled criminal defense attorney today. Contact Jason English either online or at 512-454-7548.