The word 'crime' may conjure images of handguns, black ski masks and stolen loot in canvas bags, but as we are all aware, instances of crime are not usually so overt. A wide variety of crime hinges on subtlety and discretion to be carried out, thereby making its negative impact not readily detectable. "White collar crime" is a catch-all term for an array of offenses, but is distinguished in criminology as usually being alleged against "a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation."
A white collar criminal often does not gel with the conventional image of 'criminal'. For high profile examples, think Wolf of Wall Street's Jordan Belfort or Catch Me If You Can's Frank Abagnale. White collar crime, generally speaking, is nonviolent and financially motivated. Despite their nonviolent nature, white collar crimes carry the potential for severe punishment, especially under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. For that reason, if you are accused of a white collar crime, you will likely require exceptional legal representation from a Houston White Collar Crime Defense attorney.
(Some) Types of White Collar Crime
- Fraud, involving:
- credit card fraud
- insurance fraud
- tax fraud
- bank fraud
- check fraud
- mortgage fraud
- use of mail or bank wires to commit fraud
- money laundering
Bribery can occur in a political or civil context. In a political context, Texas law defines an incident of bribery as when someone "intentionally or knowingly offers, confers, or agrees to confer" a benefit in exchange for an official's decision, vote, or other official exercise. If an official accepts or agrees to accept, they are equally liable for a charge of bribery. Removing the political context, offering an exchange of benefit for an official exercise of some sort. Conviction of political bribery is a second degree felony.
A Ponzi scheme is a form of fraud that involves promoting the perception that a nonexistent business is successful by making quick repayment to initial investors with the investment funds of later investors
Embezzlement involves the misuse of lawfully attained assets. On a small scale, imagine a store clerk pocketing a few dollars from the cash drawer that they have authorized access to. On a large scale, embezzlement can occur when business professionals funnel funds into their own bank account, alleging that they were business expenses
Cybercrime is a broad term for crimes committed via the internet. This can include digital piracy, copyright infringement, hacking, unwarranted mass surveillance, and financial or identity theft
Copyright infringement has become fairly well understood, to the point of being self explanatory. It involves the illegal use of copyrighted materials without the permission of the copyright holder. It may or may not occur with digital/cyber means, making it a real world or cyber crime
Money laundering occurs when a person uses money obtained illegally, in such a way that hides its origins and/or results in tax evasion
Using another's name, identity number or financial information in place of your own constitutes identity theft
Forgery constitutes the alteration, creation, completion, execution, or authentication of any writing in an attempt to purport authorization of an act. Writing, here, means:
- printing or any other means of recording information
- money, coins, tokens, stamps, seals, credit cards, badges, and trademarks
- symbols of value, right, privilege, or identification
According to the Justice Department, the definition of white collar crime may be expanded to include any nonviolent but deceitful, concealing, trust-breaching, or manipulatory behavior.
Corporate Liability for White Collar Crime in Texas
It is important to note that in many white collar crime cases, an individual was acting on behalf of another person or a corporation. For this reason, corporations are often held similarly liable for certain illegal behavior of their employees. Under Texas law, a corporation may be liable for an employee's action if by committing the crime:
- the employee acted within the scope of their duties, and
- the employee acted on behalf of the corporation that employed them, and
- the employee committed a crime laid out in the penal code or another law strictly defined as a liability or corporation crime, or
- the act was authorized or requested by a high managerial agent or directing board
Penalties for White Collar Crime in Texas
Given the wide variety of crimes encompassed by the term, penalties vary widely. Some offenses may be classified as misdemeanors, meaning that the penalty for an offense includes fines and a jail term. Others are classified as felonies and carry significant fines and lengthy prison sentences.
Houston White Collar Crime Defense Attorney
To be accused of a white collar crime is no small matter. It may be frightening, and the manner of complexities involved can be confusing. A charge will assuredly require skilled and zealous legal representation. Doug Murphy is well equipped with years of experience and ready to put up an aggressive fight in the courtroom on your behalf. Houston white collar crime defense attorney Doug Murphy is devoted to upholding your rights and exploring all legal options in the hope of building you a foolproof defense. A conviction for a white collar crime could wreak havoc on your career and finances. If you have been charged or suspect you will be, contact skilled Houston defense attorney Doug Murphy to begin going over the options available to fight your charge.