The experienced and dedicated criminal justice attorneys at Rawls, Scheer, Clary, and Mingo have years of trial experience and representing those charged with white collar crimes. Call (704) 376-3200 to speak with someone now.
“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.
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.
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.
Historically, “blue collar” crime was any criminal act performed by civilians of lower economic and social stature, whereas “white collar” crimes were often associated with wealthier individuals residing in the upper echelon of America’s social and economic structure. Today, “white collar crime” usually means crimes alleged to be committed by the business classes, the professional classes, or the political classes in today’s society, AND usually involve large sums of money.
For example, an ironworker who fraudulently adds time he never worked to his timecard could be accused of petty fraud, theft, or larceny; a CEO who ‘cooks the books’ to get a better stock performance may be accused of securities fraud. Whereas the former would be tried in a North Carolina state criminal court, the latter would be prosecuted in Federal court..
Both white and blue collar crimes have serious implications if an indictment is handed down.
Many blue collar crimes are committed to achieve white collar status, although usually on a much smaller scale. In neighborhoods, cities, and rural communities where opportunities for advancement or achieving higher incomes is stifled by lack of opportunity, crimes like burglary, fraud, forgery and similar often occur. “Blue collar” crime is also associated with crimes of violence such as robbery, assault, murder, sex offenses, and smaller drug offenses. These crimes of violence are not usually prosecuted in Federal Court unless tied to a specific Federal crime.
Whichever path an individual enters the criminal justice system, it can be difficult to exit, and can create a perpetual revolving door of felonious activity and criminal punishments.
Crimes committed by higher earning workers – mostly in corporate settings – have both different motivations and similar motivations to Blue collar offenders. Instead of trying to achieve white-collar status, multi million-dollar earners who get charged with financial crimes simply find themselves wanting more. Maybe an individual was passed up for promotion and wanted to retaliate by printing extra paychecks over several years; or, maybe a CEO was demoted and decided to wire themselves money before losing access to corporate bank accounts.
Corruption is another motivator for workers to commit white collar crimes. Political parties may promise certain ‘perks’ in exchange for privilege or prestige. Maybe an anti-government organization made promises in exchange for monetary contribution to their cause. Some people are attracted to the corrupt lifestyle and use their position of power to help others corruptly achieve goals.
It is always difficult to ascribe specific motivations for any type of crime, but it usually involves taking something that is not theirs, whether by violence or by deceit.The main difference between white collar crimes and blue collar crimes in America comes down to where the crime is committed, and whether the State or Federal authorities file criminal charges. Note that federal prosecutors can charge persons in some but not all situations, much like all North Carolina state prosecutors can charge in some but not all situations.
Attorneys Fight for Justice Regardless of the Alleged Crime
Persons who retain competent counsel will be afforded advantages of representation regardless of the alleged crime committed. There is no difference in an attorney’s desire, zeal, or enthusiasm in defending blue or white collar crimes; each type has its own challenges, its merits, and its potential outcomes. The most important thing to remember is that you are innocent until proven otherwise, and should not be discouraged by investigators doing their job unless their investigation violates your constitutional or statutory rights.
Rawls, Scheer, Clary, & Mingo offers experienced, skillful, and knowledgeable representation in many major cases involving white collar and blue collar crimes. Do not fight your criminal charges alone; we will fight with you.