One of the difficulties surrounding white collar crimes is that many people convicted of financial misconduct have no prior criminal background
White collar crimes have dominated news headlines in recent years, as the economy continues to struggle back from the 2008 housing crisis and subsequent collapse. Most recently, Wells Fargo drew attention and sharp criticism when it admitted to creating millions of unauthorized accounts in its customers’ names and then charging them fraudulent fees associated with the accounts.
According to the FBI, the term “white collar crime” has been around since 1939 and encompasses a wide range of offenses. In most cases, these are financial crimes perpetrated by people in business or government, however, white collar crimes can also involve individuals in other industries. For example, a Georgia teacher was accused of stealing more than $33,000 from a high school cheerleading squad in 2015, leading to felony fraud and theft charges.
When financial crimes, including fraud, embezzlement, forgery, and securities violations, involve federal laws or schemes that cross state lines, they are typically prosecuted at the federal level. In these cases, people convicted of white collar offenses are subject to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
However, as the New York Times points out, federal judges are not bound to follow the guidelines and often don’t in white collar crime cases. The U.S. Supreme Court clarified the guidelines in 2005 in U.S. v. Booker, in which it ruled that the guidelines are advisory, not mandatory. Furthermore, if federal judges wish to impose an enhanced punishment, the defendant must either admit to the facts surrounding the criminal activity, or the jury must decide that the facts support the enhanced penalty.
Should White Collar Criminals Serve Lengthy Prison Sentences?
One of the difficulties surrounding white collar crimes is that many people convicted of financial misconduct have no prior criminal background. Furthermore, many come from middle or upper class backgrounds, have noteworthy academic credentials, and have served in the upper echelons of management at prestigious banking and financial institutions. Many argue that, as non-violent offenders, these individuals should not be punished with lengthy prison sentences.
However, others disagree. In one case, a former hedge fund manager was sentenced to 11 years in prison for 14 counts of insider trading. According to prosecutors, he racked up $63.8 million in illegal profits. In these cases, experts say judges may be trying to send a strong message that wealth, prestige, and a privileged background should not allow a person to buy their way out of an appropriate sentence.
Dallas White Crime Lawyer Mick Mickelsen https://www.brodenmickelsen.com/criminal-defense-law-firm/mick-mickelsen/
Broden & Mickelsen, LLP
2600 State St Dallas, Texas 75204
Main Phone: (214) 720-9552
SOURCE: Broden & Mickelsen