A “white-collar” crime describes an offense of a non-violent nature. Some examples include corporate fraud, embezzlement and money laundering. The FBI has a dedicated unit to analyze and solve complex investigations involving white-collar crime.
Arrests for white-collar crimes can be extremely frightening, and it can seem like there is no way out. There are specific defenses permitted by law, however, that the accused can use to prove their innocence. It is important to note that defenses do not excuse an individual from facing charges and the appropriate legal proceedings. Defenses are arguments made on behalf of the accused, typically by a private attorney or public defender, to prove that the individual is innocent and did not commit the crime.
Because of the unique nature of white-collar crimes, the defenses may look somewhat different than defenses used in other types of crimes and include:
- Lack of Knowledge: If one or more of the individuals accused of the crime was/were genuinely not aware the crime was taking place, the defendant could use the “lack of knowledge” defense.
- Incapacity: If one or more individuals did not have the ability, due to either mental or physical inability, to understand the nature of the actions committed. For there to be a crime, the individual must understand and have the skills to comprehend the crimes committed.
- Lack of Intent: Intent is a required element of this type of crime in most cases and one that the prosecution must prove. If we use taxes as an example, people wonder if they will go to jail if they do not pay their taxes. While the IRS usually focuses on higher-income individuals and corporations instead of average taxpayers, there must be intent on the part of the party charged with this crime. In the case of taxes, the IRS will be looking at whether it was an honest mistake or tax evasion.
These are just a few defenses someone could use if charged with a white-collar crime. Defenses are critical because they can help determine the outcome of this type of case. It is imperative to note that the accused individual will still go through the appropriate legal process and that defenses are one part of that process.