The term ‘crime’ creates images of violence, hapless victims, or even dead bodies in most people’s minds. But did you know that there are serious crimes that do not use violence? Well, these are the white collar crimes widely referred to as non-violent crimes. They are criminal activities planned and carried out in the business sector, and those involved are usually professionals occupying positions of power.
The main motive of white-collar crime is usually financial gains such as stealing from employers, clients, investors, etc. These crimes are usually very elaborate, sophisticated, and so well executed that they might take years to uncover.
Here are some of the common forms of white collar crimes and the most effective initial defence by a criminal lawyer:
This is one of the most common white-collar crimes here in Australia. Many unsuspecting people have been caught in frauds, and some have lost a lot of money. Any money gotten through deception or falsehood is a fraud. The most common frauds include requesting an advance fee and failing to deliver on the promise. Computer hacking and online shopping scams are also categorised as fraud in Australia.
Defence: The initial defence should be that you didn’t have fraudulent intent. You should also prove that there was no risk of loss to the plaintiff or evidence was gained illegally.
2. Ponzi Scheme
Ponzi schemes are simply attractive investment opportunities that are designed to steal from unsuspecting investors. There have been too many in Australia, and probably hundreds are going on right now. Most of these investments promise high returns, mostly multiplefold, and first investors are paid very well. But as more people put money into the investment, the business suddenly collapses, and the owners disappear with the money.
Defence: The first thing is to show that you didn’t intend to steal from the investors. If the prosecutor cannot prove intent, the case will be dropped.
This is probably one of the most common white collar crimes in large companies and organisations. Embezzlement includes theft or larceny of the organisation’s resources. A good example is executives stealing from business accounts. It could also be employees stealing a few dollars from the miscellaneous kitty. Fuelling your personal car using company fuel for personal use is also embezzlement.
Defence: Show lack of intent is a perfect defence. A good lawyer will task the prosecutor with proving intent. Challenging the legality of evidence collection can also set you free.
4. Corporate Frauds
Most of the corporate frauds include people in high offices in organisations and usually involve millions of dollars. A good example is a bank CEO and management producing fake profit reports to maintain their shareholding value. The reason could be they are stealing from the bank and concealing their tracks. Eventually, the investors are likely to lose their investment when the crime is uncovered.
Defence: If multiple parties are involved, your criminal defence lawyer should demonstrate your lack of knowledge. This could be by proving that you lack the capacity to execute such a crime.
5. Bankruptcy Fraud
People who have accumulated debts and they cannot pay are allowed to file for bankruptcy. In such cases, their debtors stand to lose a lot of money since they can only get a fraction of their borrowed money. After that, all debts are cancelled. The criminal aspect of bankruptcy is that the party could be hiding properties intentionally when filing. If that’s the case, then they have committed a crime.
Defence: showing a lack of knowledge of the said property should be the first line of bankruptcy fraud defence. The lawyer should task the prosecutor with proving it wrong.
There are many forms of extortion in white-collar crime. One of the most common is coercing an institution, business, or another person to give services, money, or even property. A good example is asking someone for money to keep a secret that would harm them. Extortion is a common crime in gang-ridden areas. Blackmailing people for financial gain is also treated as extortion and crime.
Defence: Showing the lack of intent to commit a crime is a good defence. The lawyer should also challenge how evidence collection was done. If it was illegal, charges would be dropped.
Bribery is another prevalent white-collar crime in most societies. Due to fears of consequences of wrongdoing, the liable person may tend to bribe their way out. A good example is a bank CEO caught stealing from the bank or hiding crucial information trying to bribe investigators or whistleblowers. Bribes come in all forms, including money, positions, properties, and so on.
Defence: Tasking the prosecutor with proving bribery happens can set you free. Questioning the validity of evidence provided can also water down the charges. You can also challenge the collection of evidence and say it was illegal.
8. Money Laundering
With the increasing gang-led and illegal deals involving large sums of cash, money laundering has become a big thing in the financial sector. The huge kickbacks that come with processing such fraudulent money have gotten many people into this crime. If your bank accounts were used to legitimise dirty money, you have committed a white-collar crime.
Defence: Lack of knowledge and capacity to execute the plan is a good defence. In some cases, coercion or evidence of being forced can be helpful in court.
This is another fast-growing crime in the corporate world. Due to competition, companies are always looking to get secret information about competitors. They may send their person to the competitor’s business as a regular employee, but his real job being spying and stealing data for the competitor. Espionage is a severe criminal activity punishable by law.
Defence: For the company, it should be dissociating from the claims and everything about it. Showing a lack of participation or knowledge of the crime is key.
These are some of the common white-collar crimes even here in Australia. If charged with such crimes, you need an excellent criminal defence lawyer to get you off the hook or secure a favourable sentence. Any white collar crime can earn you a very long jail term if the prosecutor’s case is not challenged.