Not all crimes are violent crimes. Some crimes, such as Colorado check fraud, credit card fraud, forgery, and money laundering, are not physically violent. In this post, Denver attorney Jeff Weeden explains the five most common white-collar crimes in Colorado.
Common Misconceptions About White Collar Crimes in Colorado
Federal agents coined the term “white collar crime” to describe these crimes in the 1930s.
When a court charges you with a white-collar crime, you may believe that because the crime is not violent, your punishment will be insignificant. This is far from the truth.
Though these crimes are not physically violent, they involve large sums of money. The public may have a visceral reaction to white-collar crime, especially if they perceive the defendant as someone from a higher socioeconomic class taking money from a member of a lower socioeconomic class; because of this, prosecutors and judges often pursue harsh penalties for those who commit white-collar crime. Also, federal courts often try white-collar crimes. You must choose an attorney with experience in federal court.
At WeedenLaw, our Denver criminal defense attorneys have experience with the laws surrounding white-collar crime. In this post, our experienced-collar crime attorneys describe the 5 most common white-collar crimes. They will also describe possible legal defenses.
Common White Collar Crimes in Denver, CO
There are many types of white-collar crime. These are the most common:
Corporate fraud encompasses many other white-collar crimes, such as insider trading and falsification of financial information.
The majority of corporate fraud cases involve accounting schemes designed to deceive investors or auditors about the financial condition of a corporation. What this means is that someone within a company will edit the company’s numbers to inflate its financial performance. This way, people will invest more money, thinking the company is more valuable than it is.
The means by which companies accomplish this include:
Falsification of Financial Information
This includes listing fraudulent trades to inflate profits or hide losses. Companies might also engage in illicit transitions to evade regulatory oversight. These types of cases make up a large percentage of white-collar cases the FBI handles.
Self-dealing by corporate employees
This can include insider trading, which is trading based on non-public information. Several celebrities, including Martha Stewart, have done jail time for insider trading.
For instance, say that you work for a company but have a friend who works for a different company.
If your friend tells you their company is about to make a deal that will increase its value, and you respond by buying stock in that company before it increases, you engage in insider trading.
Self-dealing also includes misuse of corporate property for personal gain, as well as some tax violations related to self-dealing.
Embezzlement occurs when a person who handles money for their company uses their position to misappropriate funds.
The most common example is when an employee finds a way to funnel company money into their own bank account or to avoid taxes. Another example is when a politician spends campaign money for their personal expenses.
Corporate officials can do this by falsifying documents, doctoring account statements, or through unauthorized trading.
Penalties for these types of crimes can be extremely harsh. Here are the most common penalties for tax evasion.
The term “Ponzi scheme” refers to Charles Ponzi, a famous conman from the 1920s. Ponzi allegedly made $250,000 a day via mail coupon fraud.
A Ponzi scheme is an investment scam that promises high returns and no risk. The creators of a Ponzi scheme will collect investments from new investors to pay old investors. The scheme falls apart when there are no more new investors, and thus no more money to pay old investors.
Colorado extortion crimes occur when a person coerces an institution or another person into giving up money, property, or services. For instance, if a gang coerces store owners to pay “protection” money, that is extortion. This crime is similar, but not identical, to honest services fraud. (See our blog: What is Honest Services Fraud?)
Blackmail is also a form of extortion.
While extortion can be like robbery, the two differ because extortion does not involve an imminent threat of danger.
Bankruptcy is a method by which someone with insurmountable debt can find relief. When you file for bankruptcy, your creditors will receive a small part of your non-essential assets.
The point of filing for bankruptcy is to declare to your creditors that you don’t have the assets necessary to pay them. Courts will give all your nonessential assets to your creditors, and they will forgive the rest of your debt because you have nothing left.
Thus, if you hide assets or property when you are filing for bankruptcy, you are committing bankruptcy fraud.
Legal Defenses for White Collar Crimes in Denver
There are several defenses available to defendants in white-collar cases.
Two of the most common defenses to white-collar crime are lack of intent and entrapment.
Lack of Intent
The prosecution must prove that you intended to commit the crime. For instance, making a bad trade and losing your client’s money while you are still receiving a paycheck from your employer is not the same as embezzling.
This is a common defense for insider trading as well. If your defense lawyer can prove you simply got lucky or made a smart trade and did not have insider knowledge, a court cannot convict you of insider trading.
Entrapment occurs when a government agent persuades a person to commit a crime that they would not otherwise have committed.
Federal agents frequently use undercover operations to gather information about white-collar crime. If your defense team can prove you would not have committed the white-collar crime without the presence of the undercover officer, entrapment is a valid defense.
Contact WeedenLaw For the Best White Collar Criminal Defense
Since 2005, Denver defense lawyer Jeff Weeden has been fighting for the rights of Colorado citizens accused of white-collar crimes. Through helping countless clients battle their charges, Mr. Weeden has developed a reputation for his tenacity and creative defense strategies. He can help you collect evidence, hire appropriate experts, and find witnesses to build your case. With the right Denver criminal lawyer in your corner, you will be in the best position possible to have your white-collar charges reduced or dropped.
Reach out to Mr. Weeden today for a free initial consultation. The sooner you get in touch, the sooner the team at WeedenLaw can start dissecting your white-collar charges and begin building a powerful defense strategy for you.