Who Investigates White-Collar Crimes?
White-collar crimes may be investigated by a variety of agencies at the state and federal level, including:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
- California Division of Law Enforcement’s White-Collar Investigation Team
- S. Department of Justice’s Major Fraud Unit
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
In cases involving white-collar crimes, a person may learn or suspect that they are under investigation even before there is an arrest in the case. It is crucial to speak with a trusted Los Angeles white-collar criminal attorney as soon as you suspect you are being targeted.
What to Expect in a White-Collar Crime Investigation
White-collar crime investigations usually start with a tip given to a prosecutor or government agency. With that, law enforcement will begin digging for evidence. Prosecutors may file subpoenas for things like bank records, execute search warrants at a suspect’s home or office, and even seek permission to bug the suspect’s cellphone.
Once the authorities begin to piece together a paper trail, they may take more aggressive steps such as making an arrest or sending the suspect a letter stating that they’re the target of an investigation.
Do not hesitate to talk to a defense attorney at the first sign of a white-collar crime investigation. There are many moves an attorney can make early on to help protect you.
Contact Justin Now
Common Defenses to White-Collar Crime Charges
There are many defense strategies that could be used in white-collar crime cases. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your attorney may argue:
- Lack of intent: Many white-collar crimes, such as embezzlement, require the prosecution to prove that the defendant committed the criminal act intentionally. Intent can be a very difficult element to prove, and the defense may argue the act was an accident.
- Duress: The defense may argue that the defendant committed the crime because someone was threatening them.
- Entrapment: The authorities cannot coerce someone, through harassment or threat, to commit a crime. This is known as “entrapment” and will result in the dismissal of the case.
From the very beginning, your defense attorney will be working to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and any errors made during the investigative process. Your attorney may argue to get certain evidence thrown out, push for charges to be reduced, or succeed in getting the case dismissed.
Penalties of a White-Collar Crime Conviction
The penalties for a white-collar crime conviction vary widely, depending on the nature of the crime. In part, the severity of your sentence hinges on whether the crime is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. In California, the maximum jail sentence for a misdemeanor is 1 year, whereas felonies carry prison sentences of more than 1 year.
However, the consequences of a conviction extend far beyond prison time. You may face hefty fines. If the crime is a felony, you may be stripped of certain civil liberties such as the right to vote, own a gun, and hold a professional license. In the white-collar crime context, you may be banned from working as a securities broker or other professional with fiduciary duties.