What is a White Collar Crime?

Federal criminal defense attorney Steve Jumes discusses white collar crimes and how to best defend against allegations of these offenses.

A white collar case generally describes an offense that occurs in an office. It usually has to do with fraud or theft. In other words, a collared professional committed the offense, as opposed to a street crime, where you don’t think of somebody who commits the crime at work. They commit the crime on the street. The dichotomy is white collar crime and street crime.

When you’re looking for an attorney in those circumstances, it is important to have an attorney that knows how prosecutors think and that know the value of getting involved in the case early is beneficial. I know that, having worked at the United State Attorney’s Office, that the only time you really can have input as a defense attorney as to what offense is charged and what the sentencing exposure may be or to talk somebody out of charges in the first place is before indictment, before the prosecutor formally puts the case in court, because by the time of indictment they’re at the point of no return. It’s actually part of their ethical obligation to try to prosecute the highest charge alleged.

You need an attorney that understands how to read the data, that will understand the underlying offense. There are some very complicated white collar cases, and others not so complicated. Understanding what the business is and what the offense conduct is is key. Knowing how the prosecutor thinks and being able to speak in a way that they understand is key. Getting in early before the prosecutor’s at a point of no return is also key. Those would be the top three things that I would advise somebody to look for if they were in that kind of a situation.

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