What to Expect in a “White-Collar” Criminal Case
This umbrella term covers a wide variety of nonviolent theft matters which usually involve a great deal of dishonesty. Financial fraud matters are a good example. Money need not necessarily change hands. Bankruptcy fraud and insurance fraud are both extremely common white-collar crimes.
Do not mistake nonviolent for nonserious. Largely depending on the amount involved, white-collar crimes are often serious felonies. And, since many fraud scams go undetected for months or longer, the amounts involved are usually significant. Furthermore, all white-collar criminal cases carry significant indirect consequences, especially in terms of a professional career and personal devastation.
The good news is that these crimes usually have lots of moving parts, so it is difficult for prosecutors to establish guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. That’s the highest standard of proof in Florida law. As a result, a Tampa criminal defense lawyer can often successfully resolve these claims in a reasonable manner.
Largely depending on the type of case, white-collar crime pretrial procedures could involve a grand jury or could involve an information or other such documents. In both situations, prosecutors largely dictate the course of events.
Grand juries are common in large federal financial fraud matters, like pyramid schemes or Ponzi schemes which cross state lines. Grand juries review evidence to determine if the state has probable cause to bring charges. This evidentiary standard is rather low, which is one reason the grand jury indictment rate is well above 90 percent.
Another reason for the high rate is that grand jurors normally only hear one side of the story. Defense attorneys cannot participate in the proceedings. In fact, defense lawyers are not even allowed in the room. They cannot subpoena witnesses or cross-examine any Government witnesses.
In many state court cases, excluding first-degree murder, a local prosecutor decides whether to file formal criminal charges based on a police report and/or a criminal report arrest affidavit by a law enforcement officer.
Assuming the defendant has no criminal record, prosecutors may offer pretrial diversion in white-collar criminal cases. If the defendant completes some program requirements, such as paying restitution and performing community service, prosecutors dismiss the charges. As a result, the defendant never pleads guilty and has no criminal record.
Deferred disposition is a similar option. But deferred disposition happens after the defendant pleads guilty. Rather than find the defendant guilty, the judge defers further proceedings for a few months. The defendant is on probation during this time. If the defendant successfully completes probation, the judge dismisses the charges. Once again, the defendant has no conviction record.
These options do not take care of the arrest record. However, they do make it easier to seal or expunge the arrest record at a subsequent proceeding.
Contact a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer
Serious white-collar criminal charges require a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa white collar crime lawyer, contact The Matassini Law Firm. Nicholas G. Matassini is Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law by the Florida Bar and is AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.