White collar crimes are not unusual, especially in highly populated areas such as the Washington DC Metro Area. However, just like other crimes, white collar crimes can have long-term repercussions for those charged and/or convicted. Law enforcement officials take these charges very seriously, and spend a lot of time working with prosecutors to build a case against the defendant.
Below, a criminal lawyer discusses what a white collar crime means and how they are treated by local law enforcement officials and prosecutors. To learn more about federal white collar criminal charges, call today and schedule a consultation with a Fairfax federal criminal lawyer.
A white collar crime is a term that is used to describe crimes that do not involve violence. For example, white collar crimes encompass the crimes of forgery, fraud, money laundering and false pretenses.
White collar crimes are the category of crimes that don’t involve any sort of an interaction between one individual against another. There is not a specific statute that says this is a white collar crime rather it’s just sort of a category of types of crimes.
A common crime that takes place, and sometimes they are related, are identity theft and credit card fraud or credit card theft. Sometimes these charges go hand in hand because a person somehow is able to get the personal information of another individual and use that identity to either open up a credit card account in another’s person name or someone may find a credit card and take it for the purposes of using it without permission and then they subsequently commit credit card fraud.
Credit card theft is a felony offense and credit card fraud can be either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the value of the fraud itself. Misdemeanor credit card fraud would mean that somebody used a credit card in a transaction that was less than $200 versus felony credit card fraud is when somebody used their credit card number or the card itself for a transaction that was $200 or more.
One common misconception about white collar crime in Fairfax is that it’s not taken seriously. In fact white collar crimes are taken very seriously by law enforcement in Fairfax County. The police department has a specialized investigative section in the criminal investigations division that is dedicated to fraud cases, identity theft cases, and credit card cases.
One misconception is that using someone else’s credit card for instance is not a serious crime when in fact it is a serious crime that can get people into a lot of trouble.
Generally there is an investigation in a white collar case that in many cases will be quite extensive because it could be that a victim has reported that a crime has happened, a fraud has happened, or that their identity has been reported stolen to the police. Then, the police have to start investigating and figure out who is doing it, so that could take days, weeks, months, or even years.
Records are gathered, maybe video evidence is gathered, witness statements are gathered, and then generally speaking the last step in the investigation process for the police is a non-custodial interview with the suspect.
During this police interview, the suspect is presented with the evidence against him giving him the opportunity to explain it. At that point, the officers probably have enough to charge the individual or have already obtained a warrant charging the suspect and they are engaging in this interview to see if they can then basically wrap up the case with a confession.
Both federal and state jurisdictions prosecute white collar cases aggressively. Generally, in federal court, you’re going to get the more involved schemes or bigger schemes. There are more conspiracies in which there’s multiple individuals involved. Typically, in state court, there is either one or two people involved or less complicated schemes.
White collar criminal cases in Fairfax are heard by a judge in the General District Court. If it is a felony offense and the case started out as a warrant then the first hearing after the arraignment would be the preliminary hearing which would be heard in the General District Court. If the case is then indicted, meaning formally charged, then the trial will be heard in the Fairfax County Circuit Court. The evidence would be heard either by a judge or a jury.
The location, the type of charge, their potential penalties, the process, the judges and the law itself are different in state versus federal court. Across local jurisdictions, a lot is going to be the same in Arlington County, Fairfax County, and Prince William County. The law across the local jurisdictions in Virginia doesn’t change, but the law across federal versus Virginia courts will differ.
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