The definition of White Collar Crime and the term itself was introduced back in 1930s, when it was used for the nonviolent crimes. In some cases, if a crime could not be proven as a violent one, it was automatically transformed into a White Collar crime.
In the state of California, the White Collar crimes are handle by the Federal Government, District Attorneys or local prosecutors. Nowadays, the term implies non-violent crimes that involve property or funds that were entrusted to an employee. In these days, embezzlement is the most common White Collar crime. This type of crime usually involves a person or a group of persons, who were in the position of trust. Very often these persons are bookkeepers or accountants – people, who are dealing with important paperwork or money matters.
Needless to say, White Collar crimes are no different from any other types of crime, so charged individuals are not prosecuted in a different way. Hence, their legal rights are all the same and they can be defended by the professional legal representatives. Still, it is important to understand that proving such a crime may prove to be somewhat more challenging. It requires a lot of paperwork and evidence that would really point out the person of interest. Yet, the charged individual himself may make things worse with a single statement. The statement may not be all that comprehensive at first, but it will seal the fate of the charged individual for good. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to have a qualified as well as genuinely experienced legal representative by your side in order to minimize the legal damage.
Different Kinds of Legal Punishment
Just like for any other type of crime, the punishment for White Collar crimes may vary depending on how serious it really is. However, if the crime was a severe one indeed and the federal government found a person guilty of fraud, he or she may be sentenced to spend years in prison.
A White Collar crime may be deemed as a misdemeanor or a felony. Regardless, the process of investigating the matter may take a whole lot of time, especially if we are talking about cases of fraud. This is when a good attorney could have the time to intervene and minimize the legal impact of the filed case. In addition, a good lawyer might even stop the prosecution’s office from filing the case to begin with, if you are lucky enough of course.
When the investigation is complete, the police will usually go to a judge in order to ask for a warrant. In case the judge will find all the gathered evidence substantial and that everything is in line with all the legal requirements, a warrant will be issued. Once the warrant for the arrest is served, the charged individual will be taken into custody. He or she is going to remain under arrest until they have posted bail.
Once the charged individual has posted bail and therefore has been released, the court is going to schedule the date of the arraignment. This is a special court hearing, when the defendant is going to get a detailed and comprehensive information on all the available evidence against him or her and why the official charges were set by the court. After everything has been explained, the court will provide the charged individual with a possibility to enter a guilty or not guilty plea. In case the individual have decided to plead not guilty, the process will continue to the next stage. In addition, the amount of bail is going to be discussed during the arraignment as well.
The Court Process
When the arraignment is over, in case the defendant was charged with a felony, the judge is going to set the case for an early deposition court or a preliminary hearing. However, in case the defendant was charged with a misdemeanor, the judge is going to set it on pre-trial and thus the process of discovery will start.
In case of a felony, during the preliminary hearing that will be set within 10 days after the arraignment, the judge is going to review all the available evidence in order to determine if there is enough evidence and probable cause to determine that an actual crime took place. In addition, the judge will also determine if there is enough evidence pointing out that namely the given individual could commit the above-mentioned crime.
Should the judge decide there is enough probable cause for all the charges, the case will proceed to the felony arraignment. This one will be scheduled within 10 days after the preliminary hearing. During this arraignment, the defendant is going to be provided with a more extensive explication of the felony charges and his or her rights. Then he or she is going to once again have the option of pleading guilty or not guilty. The amount of bail will be discussed once more and the date of trial will be set within 60 days.
The following court appearance is referred to as a pre-trial conference. This is when the judge, the prosecution and the defense meet up together in order to discuss the case. The process of discovery and further plea negotiations take place then as well and at this point the case may be resolved. Of course, for that to happen you will need to have an outstanding legal representation indeed. On the other hand, in most cases the case will move forward.
Finally, the defendant will have the right for a trial by the jury. These are 12 different people who will need to decide if the defendant is guilty or not. In case the jury could not come to a unanimous decision, the judge will determine the case to be hung, and at his discretion may either decide to retry the case or dismiss it. In case the jury unanimously found the defendant guilty, he or she will be sentenced to prison and should they vote that the defendant is innocent, he or she will be freed and the case closed.