What is White Collar Crime?
White collar crimes refer to state and federal offenses that are most often committed for financial gain and accomplished without violence or the threat of violence. White collar crimes are so named because the individuals accused of committing these crimes are generally executives, doctors, businessmen and other individuals who have white collar jobs.
The Fort Worth white collar criminal lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC are often called upon to defend individuals facing white collar accusations, particularly at the federal level. Part of the reason is that our team includes former federal prosecutors. This experience gives us insight into how federal prosecutors approach cases, their limitations, their resources, and their weaknesses. We’ve tried complex federal criminal cases before judges and juries.
Our skilled attorneys are also particularly adept at investigating and defending complicated financial crime allegations – even in cases that other attorneys shy away from. In fact, we are often consulted or brought in by large civil firms to assist in white collar cases.
Our attorneys include three Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists, highest designation a criminal lawyer can reach in Texas. We also have an understanding of technology that is superior to that of most practicing attorneys.
Our firm is very interested in the convergence of law and technology, especially in areas where the law is developing to keep up with advancements in technology. We are also particularly interested in preventing and curbing illegal government intrusion into the lives of private citizens through the use of technology. As a result, we have been called upon to defend cases that had hundreds of co-defendants in which we spearheaded arguments based on a greater command of the technology the government used, and our arguments were adopted by many other attorneys across the country.
Examples of White Collar Crimes
We commonly defend white collar crimes including:
- Bank Fraud
- Contractor Fraud
- Computer Crimes
- Fraudulent Investments
- Healthcare Fraud
- Mail Fraud
- Mortgage Fraud
- Money Laundering
- Securities Fraud
- Specified Unlawful Activities
- Tax Evasion
- Tax Fraud
- Wire Fraud
Common Mistakes in White Collar Cases
Not hiring an attorney early.
You don’t want to start looking for an attorney after you have been arrested. In most cases, agents may reach out to get a statement, send you a target letter, a grand jury subpoena, or even execute a search warrant on your home or business. You should hire a white collar criminal attorney in Fort Worth as soon as you have an inkling that there might be an investigation into your activities.
Talking to anyone other than an attorney.
You may be tempted to talk to other executives in your company, your spouse, or your closest friends to get their advice on what to do. This is a mistake. Remember that they could be called as witnesses against you and you could potentially be charged with obstruction of justice if the Government believes you were trying to get your stories straight.
Not hiring an experienced white collar criminal attorney.
White collar crimes are significantly more complex than most criminal cases. It’s important to have an expert by your side. You wouldn’t go to a general practitioner for heart surgery; the same premise applies here. It is important to go to someone who has experience in federal white collar cases if you are facing a federal white collar case.
Not considering options pre-indictment.
Too many attorneys and accused individuals are reactive instead of proactive. If you wait until the government has indicted you to fully explore your options, your options will be severely limited. Generally, federal prosecutors are taught that post-indictment they should proceed on the highest indicted and provable charge. Pre-Indictment there are many more opportunities, ranging from convincing a prosecutor not to move forward with an indictment to a deferred prosecution agreement.
Not putting on evidence at the detention hearing.
One of the first steps pre-trial in most federal cases is a detention hearing. At the detention hearing, a federal judge will hear evidence on whether or not you will be released pre-trial. It is important to know what kind of evidence the judge is looking for and to prepare witnesses and gather evidence that will maximize your chances of being released while the case is pending.
Giving up hope.
It is no secret that the federal agents are much more thorough in preparing cases before the case is ever filed in court than their state brethren. While this is true, even federal agents do not have unlimited resources. They also are not infallible in their investigations. Our experience prosecuting and defending complex white collar crimes aids us greatly in finding weaknesses in the Government’s case and has helped us develop relationships with experts who have remarkable talents in following the paper trail to assist in your defense.
What is the Importance of Expertise When Building a Defense for White Collar Crimes?
Being able to distinguish white-collar crimes from other offenses is key because they present very different defense challenges to prosecution. Street crime cases require defense practitioners to find new witnesses (called challenges to the prosecution narrative, such as self-defense) or by challenging the manner in which prosecutors arrived at the conclusion that a particular person committed a crime. In contrast, white collar crime cases must be defended by intense data mining and a thorough understanding of complicated billing or banking systems. Thus, the skill sets required for a successful defense of each type of crime are vastly different.
What Role Does Technology Play in These Cases?
Modern technology has expanded the criminal investigation of these cases at an exponential rate. Because computer and web-related activities render most people vulnerable, law enforcement agencies and prosecution offices are devoting more resources to target these types of cases. Enforcement agencies such local police departments, the FBI, IRS, and the SEC, use a variety to amass and sift through thousands of records.
What Documents and Records Does a Defendant Need?
Because white collar cases require tedious examination of records and asset tracing, defense attorneys in this area need to be experienced in obtaining, examining, and most importantly, understanding voluminous records, documents, and written materials. The ability to follow the paper trial is a skill many attorneys do not have. In addition to the talents our partners bring to the table, we work with forensic accountants and former federal tax agents to ensure even the most complicated white collar cases are fully prepared from the defense side.
Necessity of a Proactive Defense
Another important strategic distinction exists. Street crime cases are often enhanced by delay and a ‘wait and see’ approach. This is because witnesses often relocate, lose energy for cooperation, and have fading memories. However, records and documents do not present any such challenges to law enforcement. Instead, these cases require early, proactive steps. It is vital that people facing these types of accusations obtain legal counsel and start collecting records quickly.
The former federal prosecutors at Varghese Summersett PLLC have an insider’s perspective on the investigation and prosecution of regulatory violations. We represent individuals, as well as public and private corporations, both U.S. and international, in all areas of white collar defense work, including internal investigations, government investigations, and enforcement actions. We have reviewed investigations done by dozens of federal regulatory and administrative agencies. We understand just how much is at stake in these cases and are adept at mounting effective defenses to these charges. Our team defends against regulatory bodies including:
- The Department of Justice (DOJ)
- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
- The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
- The Texas State Securities Board (TSSB)
Asset Forfeiture in White Collar Crimes
Asset seizure and forfeiture is a common feature to white collar crime prosecutions. The Government in interested in seizing and forfeiting funds it considers to be proceeds or instrumentalities of crime. This is especially significant because the seizure and forfeiture will directly affect the spouse and family as much as possible incarceration will.
White Collar Crime Defense Trends
Prosecutors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have been increasing their investigations and prosecutions both at the state and federal level. Our Fort Worth attorneys are experienced defending white collar allegations at the State and Federal level throughout the United States. Our investigative efforts have led to, in some cases, the cessation of all criminal proceedings against individuals and in others probation where the minimum sentence was a period of years. Even in cases where a sentence cannot be avoided, our attorneys have successfully obtained minimal sentences through our negotiations and pleadings.
It is worth noting that the most effective defense is one that starts before a criminal case is filed. This includes preventive measures through our corporate compliance arm and also means beginning the defense of a case while the government is in its investigative phase.
Contact Our Fort Worth White Collar Criminal Attorneys for Help
If you have been charged with a white collar offense, or if you believe you might be under investigation, call us today for a confidential analysis of your situation. Our attorneys include former state and federal prosecutors, and we have former federal agents who assist us in our own defense investigations. White collar charges often involve a mountain of documents that must be read, compiled, and summarized, before a trail can be followed. Our firm of Fort Worth white collar criminal lawyers has the resources necessary to defend the most complex of criminal matters.
Give us a call or contact us online.