What are white collar crimes?
The term is often used to refer to crimes committed by office workers in the course of their work.
Definition of white collar crime in Texas?
While there is no section of the Texas Penal Code called “white collar crimes,” most white collar crimes are included in the Code section on fraud offenses. While the statute spells out each element of each specific type of fraud crime, the legal concept of fraud generally requires a number of factors:
- A person knowingly misrepresents a material fact;
- The misrepresentation is directed at someone who reasonably relies on that misrepresentation; and
- The person relying on the misrepresentation suffers an actual injury or loss due to that reliance.
How are white collar crimes criminalized?
Most white collar crimes are federal crimes that are often considered felonies and are prosecuted in federal court.
Types of white collar crimes in Texas?
- Trademark counterfeiting
- Stolen checks
- False statements to obtain a loan
- Organized crime
- Bad check
- Identity theft
- Insurance fraud
- Medicaid fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Tax fraud
- Theft of intellectual property
- Public corruption and bribery
- Tax evasion
- Theft of government property
- Consumer fraud
- Money laundering – It is the process by which criminals disguise the original control and the proceeds of criminal actions by making it appear that the proceeds come from a legitimate source. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines money laundering as the process by which “dirty” money is turned into “clean” money. It occurs when money is moved from its original source in illegal activities and made to appear legitimate by taking it through a process called “integration.”
- Mortgage Fraud – Occurs when someone misrepresents, intentionally omits, lies, or confuses important information during the mortgage application and approval processes. It can be committed by a lender or a borrower. Investigation of these crimes can be carried out by agencies such as the Secret Service, the FBI, and inspectors from the United States Postal Service.
- Security fraud – Failure of a securities agency/company to truthfully disclose activities to investors and analysts. Sometimes insider trading is also included.
- Embezzlement – In Texas, it falls under the general statute of theft which defines the elements of the crime as: (1) illegal appropriation of property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property; (2) the seizure is illegal if it is done without the effective consent of the owner or if it is seized and the person knows that it is stolen property. This generally means that a person was entrusted with property and then took, spent or used the property without the consent of the owner.
- Bank fraud – It is the use of potentially illegal means to obtain assets, money or other property that is owned or is in the custody or control of a financial institution. Attempting to obtain money from depositors through false or fraudulent pretenses, such as impersonating an official of a bank or other financial institution, may also be considered. A common case involves contacting the bank’s clients with misleading emails or messages, with the aim of recovering confidential financial information. It could result in 5 to 10 years in prison, depending on the severity of the crime.
- Postal and electronic fraud – Anticipates the fraudulent deprivation of property through communications by postal mail or electronic means (telephone, radio or television). When fraud is committed against individuals, companies or the government, the accused person can spend up to 5 years in prison and/or obtain a fine of up to $250,000.
- Bankruptcy fraud – Hiding assets or information in a federal bankruptcy action.
- Ponzi Schemes – Investment managers defraud investors by using later investors’ money to pay previous investors, rather than investing the money as promised.
Conspiracy as a common element in white collar crimes?
Under most conspiracy laws (both state and federal), prosecutors must show four items to prove the conspiracy:
- An agreement;
- An illegal purpose;
- Knowledge and intention; and,
- A manifest act to achieve the objective of the conspiracy, it is not necessary for the crime to materialize.
What can be the penalties for a person found guilty of white collar crimes?
The severity of criminal charges for white collar crimes will often depend on the value of the money or property involved in the alleged crimes. Certain cases can result in felony charges that carry prison sentences and very heavy fines.
These penalties include:
- Incarceration: Most white collar crimes come with minimum jail sentences. There are several factors that can further increase those minimum sentences and when multiple charges are at stake, things can get very serious.
- Probation: When a court agrees to probation, the jail sentence will be suspended in whole or in part. The suspended portion will only be served when there is evidence of additional misbehavior.
- Fines: It is very common in these crimes to impose fines on individual offenders and companies. However, due to the severity of the violations, these fines are often high and often exceed what individuals, or even businesses, can afford.
- Restitution: It may mean that the government can take your home or unprotected property in lieu of restitution.
Criminal liability for another?
A key element of many white collar crimes is proving that an accused person is responsible for the behavior of another person, be it an individual or a corporation. This is because often the accused person has engaged in a criminal action on behalf of another person (such as their boss) or a corporation.
Under Federal Law, a corporation can be liable for the actions of its employees, under the “Respondeat Superior” theory. If any employee acted within the scope of her/his duties, on behalf of the corporation, and the company knew that the activity was criminal, then the corporation may be liable for the employee’s criminal act. to.
Under Texas Penal Code §7.22, a corporation can only be liable for the actions of an employee if:
- The employee acted within the scope of her/his functions; and
- The employee was acting on behalf of the corporation; and
- The offense is defined (in the penal code or other law) as a strict liability offense or one that applies to corporations; and/or
- The act was authorized or requested by a majority of the Board of Directors or a senior manager, such as the CEO.
However, under Texas Penal Code §7.02, liability for another person’s crimes is broadly defined. One person may be liable for the actions of another person if
- The person forces them to perform the act;
- Requests, tries to help, helps or encourages the act; or
- The person has a legal duty to prevent/stop the act, and doesn’t.