What is Considered a White Collar Crime in New Jersey?

white collar criminal

They trick the elderly of their retirement savings, posing as a grandchild in need of a bailout from jail or a grand prize offer for two weeks in the Bahamas. They may be the foreign diplomat from Africa who promises to share a huge inheritance with you if you send them your bank account information. Or they may be your employee or the wining and dining executive offering the mayor perks for an ordinance exemption. These are white collar criminals who earn their keep from stealing, defrauding, and extorting from the young, old, and in-between. That is the perception of the all too familiar scammers, thieves, and bribers on the other end of the telephone line, computer email, or text message. But they may also be the college student who thought their job in telephone sales was legitimate, or a government official or high-finance employee who came into hard times. Sometimes, people unwittingly commit white collar criminal offenses with virtually no idea they are breaking the law.

Whenever and wherever someone can make a false statement to gain more than they rightfully own or earn, you may have white-collar crime. So, the wealthy investor who inflates the values of their real estate and investment portfolio to obtain a huge loan may have committed bank fraud, but if they transmitted the information over the internet or the telephone, then computer fraud or wire fraud may be added as charges. Likewise, the unemployed mother who passes a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill at a convenience store is guilty of counterfeiting if they knew the bill was fake, a fourth, third-, or second-degree crime, depending on how many counterfeit bills the person possesses. It is also a federal crime that could land them in jail for ten to twenty years.

Need a Skilled Union County NJ White Collar Crime Defense Lawyer

Regardless of the situation, whoever commits a white collar crime is in for a potentially long prison stay. As such, anyone accused of theft, fraud, embezzlement, internet crimes, and other white collar offenses needs a legal counsel and zealous defender in their corner. Our criminal defense attorneys handle all types of white collar investigations, charges, and criminal prosecutions on behalf of clients throughout Union County, including towns such as Cranford, Union Township, Linden, Westfield, Mountainside, Summit, and Elizabeth. If you are in need of a lawyer’s help with a white collar-related criminal case in New Jersey, contact our office immediately at (908) 838-0150 to receive a free consultation.

What Offenses can be Considered White Collar Crimes in NJ?

Many forms of financial fraud and theft constitute a white-collar crime. The term “white collar” includes fraud, bribery, crime rings, computer crimes, money laundering, and embezzlement. Counterfeiting, forgery, extortion, copyright infringement, piracy, check fraud, insider trading, corporate fraud, and bankruptcy fraud fall into the broad category. Fraud takes many forms. For instance, falsely claiming your house was burglarized to your insurance company for compensation, telemarketing a lie about winning a free trip to get bank account information, making false deductions on a tax return, or pretending to be a bank to defraud bank customers are all financial schemes punishable by incarceration and fines. One type of deception, insurance fraud, may be charged as a third degree or second degree crime, depending on the cumulative acts of fraud, resulting in up to 5 to 10 years in prison and $15,000.00 in fines. Wire or mail fraud, using the telephone or mail to defraud people of their money, results in a possible $1,000,000.00 fine and 30 years in prison. And bank fraud carries the same penalty, while tax fraud can lead to five years in prison and a $100,000.00 fine.

Additionally, those who steal from their employers can spend up to 20 years in prison. So, an employee in the accounting department of a big corporation may need a criminal defense attorney if they have been skimming money from their employer, say padding an expense account, or making personal charges on a business credit card. Alleged embezzlers, like people who commit bribery, know they are illegally obtaining money by their actions. Paying off a government official for favors may seem like politics as usual in some places, but like RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) violations, corruption is punished harshly. A bribery conviction can land you in prison for 5 years, and if you are part of an organized crime operation that regularly earns money through bribery, extortion, or gambling, you could face 20 years in prison.

More subtly, money laundering is not always a clear-cut case for a prosecutor. It involves funneling illegally obtained money, say, from organized crime operations to legal channels. So, a drug trafficking operation may take the money they make and invest it in a legitimate business, like a restaurant or retail sports store, to avoid the IRS red flag. They then purchase restaurant equipment, lease a building, and pay the business start-up and operating costs. In that way, drug traffickers hide illegal money in a viable financial operation. The restaurant or sports store owner who receives the funds, who know or reasonably should know that the investment money is illegal, may be complicit in money laundering by receiving the invested funds. They may be spending 5 years in prison as a result, if the prosecutor can prove those receiving the funds knew or should have known the money was tainted.

Other white-collar crime consequences, like computer and internet crime penalties, vary depending on the act or acts alleged. Phishing scams can lead to long prison terms or probation. But crimes like identity theft may lead to stiffer penalties. An accused may have contacted a bank customer over the internet, posing as their bank. If they extract social security, password, and other personal information from the victim and then use it to open credit cards, purchase an automobile, or order a meal in a fancy restaurant, they may be guilty not only of using the internet for illicit purposes but also identity theft. Additionally, they may be charged with credit card fraud if they opened a credit card account with false information. Credit card theft is not limited to stealing someone’s credit card and using it to purchase items but also includes fraudulently duplicating a credit card or using a lost credit card rather than returning it to the cardholder or bank that issued it.

Contact a White Collar Crimes Attorney in Cranford, NJ

Committing a white-collar crime risks many charges for related crimes, depending on the medium of the crime, internet, wire, fraud, or theft. Multiple charges may apply to one set of facts. With multiple crime charges come multiple sentences that compounded, threaten an accused’s freedom for many years. It takes a highly experienced criminal defense attorney to expertly pare down the charges by negotiating with the prosecuting attorney and convincing a judge that multiple sentences are not appropriate. They may also be able to convince a prosecutor that probation or house arrest makes more sense for a defendant to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society than prison. And sometimes, the case is fundamentally flawed or lacking merit, whereby a good lawyer can work to get it dismissed altogether.

From the initial investigation for a white collar crime, to arrest, charging and resulting litigation, you need a white collar criminal defense attorney who will advocate for you every step of the way. By consulting with an attorney at the outset, you may find that the charges against you, though serious, may be defensible in a court of law or the worst consequences avoidable through active defense strategies. Contact our seasoned Union County NJ White Collar Crimes Lawyers for assistance with your case today. We are pleased to answer your questions in a free consultation or by scheduling an appointment at our conveniently located office in Cranford. Contact (908) 838-0150 to learn more.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.