White Collar Crime Defense

White collar crime” was originally defined in 1939 as a “crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.” The term is no longer reserved for elites, and now basically means any financial crime committed by anyone in the course of any business. The specific white collar crimes go by the names wire fraud, bank fraud, mail fraud, tax fraud, mortgage fraud, securities fraud, and healthcare fraud, but also embezzlement, identity theft, bribery, and extortion.

White collar crime is often prosecuted by the Federal government (the United States Department of Justice and other agencies), but it is not uncommon that State prosecutors bring the cases in the local county courts.

Prison sentences are almost always a possibility in white-collar cases. Particularly where the amount of money involved is high, the guidelines used by judges in determining sentences usually recommend or require active prison sentences. For example, under North Carolina law, fraud (called “false pretense”) involving more than $100,000 is a Class C felony punishable by no less than 3 and ½ years in prison, even for a person who has never been convicted anything. Federal frauds involving the same amount of money yield recommended sentences of at least 2 years, and sentences of 5-10 years are not uncommon if that “loss amount” grows substantially.

That said, with the help of an experienced white collar criminal defense lawyer, people targeted in these prosecutions can improve their situation dramatically. First, law enforcement sometimes gets it wrong, casting unfortunate business losses or misunderstandings as intentional fraud.

Beginning with a thorough understanding of the financial transactions involved – sometimes with the help of forensic accountants – white-collar defense lawyers attack the biggest hurdle prosecutors have to jump to convict someone. It is hard to prove that someone specifically intended to defraud or steal from someone else, and the prosecutor can sometimes be convinced to dismiss their case because it is not what it seemed when they first charged. Even where a person is guilty of something, plea negotiations can yield dramatically reduced sentences and often no jail time at all if handled with skill.

Hire Experienced White Collar Defense Attorneys

The criminal defense lawyers at Rawls, Scheer, Clary, & Mingo are Board Certified Specialists who have handled dozens of complicated and high-profile white-collar cases over the past 30+ years. These have included mortgage frauds involving tens of millions of dollars, alleged embezzlements from some of the largest companies in the world, international Ponzi schemes, securities frauds, and investigations into public corruption and influence peddling in Charlotte. They have represented people in courts across the United States and in foreign countries. But they also represent individuals charged with taking merchandise from the store they work for, those accused in check-kiting schemes, and many small business owners who have come under scrutiny for what the Government considered suspicious activity.

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"I want to thank you all for saving my life....I know you went to considerable effort and expended considerable energy and time to obtain the best possible resolution for me, and that this process was not straightforward and required great skill to accomplish. I know that you believed in me, did not waver in your belief in me, and articulated this belief clearly and effectively when it mattered most. I know that you put your heart into this. You did not see me as a criminal, but as a human being, and in many ways, I felt, as a colleague." ...
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