Perhaps you were at your office or enjoying an evening at home when Texas police showed up at the door with a search warrant. If there were other people present at the time, you might have felt embarrassed or nervous to have investigators enter your home or office and start looking around. If they seized items, such as folders containing documents, you no doubt began to feel even more stressed. If the search concluded with you in custody for suspected white-collar crimes, your life was about to change.
The term “white-collar crime” refers to a number of illegal activities. Each of these activities, however, carries separate penalties under conviction. It is important to fully understand exactly what the accusations mean if you are facing white-collar crime charges in court.
White-collar crimes are typically non-violent
As opposed to a charge of assault, manslaughter or burglary, which often include violence, white-collar crimes are usually non-violent by nature. In fact, the primary goal for someone committing this type of crime is almost always financial gain. More often than not, white-collar crimes occur in the corporate world.
Most common types of white-collar crime
When police arrested you, they might have mentioned that you were under suspicion for fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, insider trading or a Ponzi scheme. These are some of the most common types of white-collar crime. Even with such categories, there are often subcategories, such as identity fraud, financial fraud or business fraud.
Several Amendments in the U.S. Constitution can help you protect your rights
If you have become the subject in a white-collar crime investigation, it is imperative that you know your rights, as well as how to protect them. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, for instance, protects you against unlawful searches or seizure. Therefore, if investigators did not show you a validly authorized warrant, and no exceptions to the rule were relevant in your case, you may have grounds to challenge the evidence, if they entered your home or office without consent.
The Fifth Amendment protects your right to remain silent during interrogation, if you do not have the benefit of legal counsel at the time. There have been many white-collar crime cases in the past that a judge has dismissed because of personal rights violations leading up to, during or following an arrest. This is why you should closely monitor everything police officers say and do before and after taking you into custody.
You are guaranteed an opportunity to present a defense
If your case goes to trial, the court must grant you an opportunity to refute the white-collar crime charges against you. A conviction could have lasting, if not permanent, negative effects on your career, as well as your personal reputation. There is no way to predict a certain outcome in a criminal case. However, your right to present a defense is a guarantee.