White collar crime is no longer just a specialty area in law. As the world becomes highly digital, criminal conduct used to conceal deceitful actions regarding money, property or services gets a little easier to commit. Although, one could argue that safety measures are increasing too. White collar crimes, or “paper” crimes are generally carried out within the workplace by individuals that are either comfortable enough in their positions make a risk worthwhile, or unknowingly by abuse of a system that is not transparent.
One obvious example of white collar crime that many companies might unknowingly use a large amount of company funds for non-company related expenses. This might be hidden on a tax audit. Other examples include: insider trading, embezzlement, computer/internet fraud, credit card fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. While this is not a comprehensive list, these prosecutions are among the most common in white collar court cases. NYC law firms like Debevoise & Plimpton, where Sean Hecker works as a partner, actually specialize in white collar crime.
Like other major crimes, these violations will differ in severity and therefore, level of prosecution. White collar crimes can be prosecuted on a federal or state level, and sometimes both. The circumstances of the prosecution vary depending upon what law was broken. If convicted, these crimes usually result in jail time, large fines, and restitution to the victims of the crime. The largest and most complex white collar cases, however, are usually brought at the federal level. The state of New York, unsurprisingly, has quite a high number of white collar crimes. Being as it is the nation’s head in finance, New York city is filled with institutions that may not have the time for oversight regarding illegal or suspicious activities within its quarters.
It is also difficult for New York courts to combat complicated instances of white collar crime. Just take this year’s instance of a famous case demonstrating how white collar criminal cases continue to need a narrow interpretation by federal judges. Justice Ginsberg has gone on record for leniency in white collar law, seeking to prove that the parties involved in the white collar crime were knowingly committing a crime. Section 1519 of federal law is also an issue in New York white collar law. This section states that it is a crime to alter or destroy “any record, document, or tangible object” that would obstruct a government inquiry or action. A conviction on these charges can get prison time for up to 20 years. So in this case, what would constitute a tangible object? Referencing the case above, it is hard to tell. This is why it is imperative to receive the correct counsel if one has committed a white collar crime.