Like any other criminal offense, white-collar crimes require (1) a bad act, (2) criminal intent and (3) causation. The law requires that the prosecutor – i.e. the government – prove every element of the crime charged against an accused. There are several available defenses to an accusation of a white-collar crime including insanity, duress, incapacity or intoxication and – perhaps the most common defense – entrapment.
Entrapment occurs when a government actor presents an individual with an opportunity to commit a criminal act that would not otherwise have been committed but for the opportunity. In cases where entrapment can be shown, a skilled criminal defense attorney argues the accused had no tendency to commit the act, in other words no predisposition, but for the government’s lure. Under the law, however, being provided a favorable opportunity by the government to commit a crime is not enough to substantiate this defense.
The defense of insanity is put forth to avoid liability for the commission of a crime. This defense does not negate the fact that the accused committed the criminal act but, instead, he or she did not appreciate the nature or quality of the wrongfulness of the act(s).
In order to successfully use duress as a defense to a crime an accused must prove that (1) the threat is of serious bodily harm or death; (2) the threatened harm must be greater than the harm caused; and (3) the threat must be both immediate and inescapable.
Incapacity or intoxication may also be used as a defense. Incapacity is the lack of ability or fitness to commit a specific act. Likewise, a person claiming intoxication as a defense may seek diminished responsibility for the crime.
Individuals and corporations may be charged with white-collar crimes, and penalties may include forfeiture, heavy monetary fines, home detention, court-ordered restitution payments, supervised released and/or prison time. If an accused assists the authorities with an ongoing investigation, sentencing may be reduced. Although the sentencing guidelines courts follow may vary depending on the jurisdiction, judges are given minimal discretion so that imposition of sentences are generally uniform. Factors that are taken into account include, but are not limited to prior criminal record, if any, of the defendant, the crime for which the defendant has been convicted, and other mitigating factors.
White-collar crime charges are serious. Attorney Steven Goldman has years of experience defending clients across the greater Chicago area. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a white-collar criminal offense, has received a target letter, or is under investigation by a law enforcement agency, call (773) 484-3131 for an initial consultation.