Let’s talk about white-collar crime. In my experience, I have been a part of various cases where individuals unknowingly commit crimes, knowingly engage in fraudulent activities, or maintain their innocence despite facing criminal charges.

In this article and video, we will dive into the different facets of white-collar crime, exploring the motives behind such actions and the consequences of one’s response to criminal charges.

Unintentional/Did Not Know:

Individuals may sometimes find themselves unknowingly involved in white-collar crimes. Take, for example, the scenario of a doctor who believes they are making legitimate payments for marketing fees but later discovers that these payments are, in fact, kickbacks. This lack of awareness about the true nature of their actions can be attributed to a lack of transparency or deliberate manipulation by others involved in the scheme. These people eventually face charges, as ignorance of the law is not considered a valid defense.

Calculated Risk-Takers – The Gamble of Not Getting Caught:

Another category of white-collar criminals comprises individuals who knowingly engage in fraudulent activities, fully aware of the illegality of their actions. Many engage in crimes knowing, if they get caught, what the potential sanction could be.

The Low Prevalence of Trial Victories:

Statistics indicate most people lose at trial. Despite proclaiming their innocence, for example, individuals like Sunny Balwani or Elizabeth Holmes lost yet maintained their innocence. In my opinion, this sort of case is not that interesting.

The Perils of Willful Blindness:

Some white-collar crimes manifest as willful blindness, where individuals (like me) deliberately ignore or turn a blind eye to illegal activities. They indirectly perpetuate the crimes by choosing not to acknowledge or address such actions. While they may not be directly involved, the law holds them accountable for their complicity through intentional ignorance.

Case Study: Charlie Javice and the Art of Deception:

One recent case highlighting the reality of individuals knowingly committing white-collar crimes and expecting to evade punishment is that of Charlie Javice. Javice, the founder of Frank, a college financial aid company, defrauded JPMorgan Chase for $175 million during the acquisition process. She fabricated data and inflated user counts to deceive the Chase. Javice’s scheme reflects the mindset of those who believe they can commit crimes without repercussions.

The Role of Motive and Response in Sentencing In white-collar crime cases, the motives behind the criminal acts and the responses of the accused individuals significantly impact the severity of their sentences.

Acknowledging and taking immediate responsibility for the crime can lead to a reduced sentence. Similarly, if the criminal activities were limited to a shorter duration, such as weeks instead of months or years, it may also contribute to a less severe sentence. When the government perceives that the sole motive was personal gain and the individual acts brazenly, underestimating the likelihood of getting caught, the repercussions tend to be severe.

White-collar crime presents a complex landscape where individuals may find themselves unwittingly involved, knowingly taking risks, maintaining their innocence in court, ignoring wrongdoing, or even committing crimes with the misguided belief that they will never face the consequences. The case of Charlie Javice exemplifies the case of someone who just figured she would never get caught–there is no other explanation. 

Defendants must invest significant time and effort into mitigating their circumstances and ensuring that all government stakeholders understand the true motives behind the crime. This is particularly important to avoid situations where individuals who had no bad intentions and were unaware of the wrongfulness of their actions receive longer sentences than those who knowingly committed a crime and assumed they would never get caught.

If someone is under investigation, taking proactive steps to navigate the process effectively is crucial. First and foremost, being proactive requires a deep understanding of the charges levied against you. This goes beyond a mere reading of the indictment or the criminal complaint.

1: Researching to comprehend the elements of the offense, enabling you to strategize your defense better.
2: It is essential to contemplate the vast resources that prosecutors have at their disposal.
3: Recognizing the potential tools and evidence they can utilize against you is crucial in preparing a solid defense.
4: Consider the responses of other individuals involved in the case and their potential impact on your defense strategy.
5: Assessing your available financial and other resources is essential to a proactive defense.
6: A comprehensive understanding of the sentencing guidelines applicable to your case is imperative.
7: Knowing the potential range of penalties and the factors that can mitigate or aggravate your sentence allows for informed decision-making during plea negotiations or trials.

Defenders can navigate the legal system more effectively by investing time, effort, and resources in proactive defense measures, ensuring that all relevant parties understand and consider their motives.

Justin Paperny