White Collar Criminal Attorney
White collar crimes are criminal offenses that generally involve the nonviolent yet illegal acquisition of money. A white-collar crime may have a better reputation than some other offenses, but a conviction still carries stiff penalties and has the potential for significant jail time.
If you have been accused of a white collar crime or fear that you are under investigation in the Dothan area, a skilled Alabama criminal defense attorney can make sure that your rights are fully protected. At Smith & McGhee, PC, our legal team has years of experience handling all types of state and federal criminal cases, and we will take every step possible to protect your freedom as well as your future.
What Makes a Crime “White Collar”?
White collar crime encompasses a full range of fraudulent activity that may be committed by a business, government professional, or individual. These are different than “street” crimes in the sense that white collar crimes are characterized by concealment, violation of trust, or deceit, and don’t depend on the use of physical force or the threat of violence. The FBI notes that the motivation for these crimes is financial gain, to avoid losing money, or to secure a business or personal advantage. By their nature, white collar crimes are against the law and can carry some severe penalties.
Common Types of White Collar Crimes
When most people think of white collar crime, they picture Ponzi schemes and insider trading. Bernie Madoff probably perpetrated one of the most notorious Ponzi schemes in history beginning in the 1980s when he set up fake investment accounts that were finally discovered during the 2008 stock market crash. In short, Madoff defrauded clients out of nearly $65 billion and pled guilty to 11 felonies that included money laundering, securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, and perjury. He was sentenced to 150 years in federal prison.
White collar crime is an umbrella term that can include many different criminal acts. Some of the most common types of white collar crimes include:
- Deceptive Business Practices. Selling, delivering, or offering goods that are less than represented, faulty, adulterated, or mislabeled. This also involves falsely recording quantities and weights with fraudulent intent.
- Forgery. Third degree forgery involves altering or completing a written instrument for fraudulent intent. Second degree forgery involves falsely making a contract such as a will, deed, public record, or other documents. Third degree forgery involves altering, completing, or making a postal stamp or other valuable instruments such as a security with fraudulent intent.
- Falsifying Business Records. Altering, deleting, creating, or destroying business records with the intent to defraud.
- Credit and Debit Card Fraud. Using a stolen, revoked, or canceled credit or debit card with the intent to obtain something of value.
- Issuing False Financial Statements. Knowingly making or uttering inaccurate financial statements with the intention of defrauding another person or business.
Other types of white collar crimes that we defend against include money laundering, extortion, computer fraud, embezzlement, real estate and mortgage fraud, grand larceny, and Federal RICO/racketeering charges.
The Stakes are High for a White-Collar Crime Conviction
Many defendants are completely unaware of the potential severity of their charges. You may not believe that the act of lying to a business client or skimming a few dollars from your company has an impact, but it is both harmful and illegal. These actions can impact the bottom line of a company and erode an individual’s personal savings.
Depending on the offense, the penalties for a white-collar crime will vary in Alabama. In addition to fines and potential jail time, it’s vital to consider the effect that a conviction will have on your future. Not only will your reputation be tarnished, but you may also have trouble finding employment with a conviction on your record. Alabama classifies and divides penalties for white collar crimes by class:
- Class B Misdemeanor. Crimes such as deceptive business practices, issuing false financial statements, and falsifying business records; up to 6 months in prison and up to $3,000 fine.
- Class A Misdemeanor. Crimes such as third-degree forgery; up to one year in prison and up to $6,000 fine.
- Class C Felony. Crimes such as second-degree forgery and credit/debit card fraud; mandatory min. sentence of 1 year + 1 day, up to 10 years in prison, and up to $15,000 fine.
- Class B Felony. Crimes such as first-degree forgery; mandatory min. sentence of 2 years, up to 20 years in prison, and up to $30,000 fine.
Defense Strategies for White Collar Crimes
Most white-collar crimes are less straightforward than a typical violent crime, which makes defending these cases more complex. This does not mean that there are no defenses available, however. To obtain a white-collar crime conviction, the prosecution must prove that there was (1) a bad act, (2) criminal intent, and (3) causation.
Some of the available defenses for one of these crimes include entrapment, duress, insanity, intoxication, and incapacity. Entrapment is the most common defense, and this occurs when a person is enticed into committing a crime, usually by the government. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to explain your options and craft a defense that will provide the best-case outcome.
Mount a Strong Defense with an Alabama White Collar Crimes Lawyer
White collar crimes are just as serious as any other crimes, and sometimes more so. No matter what the circumstances of your case, you have certain rights when facing accusations that a skilled criminal defense attorney can help protect. Charges related to a white-collar crime require the most vigorous defense from a lawyer that understands the complexities of these cases.
At Smith & McGhee, PC, we have years of experience presenting an aggressive defense for clients who have been accused of serious offenses. If you have been charged with a white-collar crime or are under investigation, you may fear for your future and that of your family. Take immediate steps to safeguard your reputation and rights by giving us a call to schedule your initial consultation.
Contact us now at 334-708-3158, or through our online contact form, to schedule an appointment at your convenience. We make jail visits when needed and are available in the evenings and on weekends.