White Collar Crimes—3 Reasons Why They Take Years to Prosecute

FraudWhite collar crimes are both famous and infamous. Television shows have made this type of crime seem exciting. In real life, however, these crimes can ruin the lives of innocent people.

A major contributor to the economic fallout of 2008 was due to white collar crimes—everything from embezzlement to fraud to insider trading has been charged against big corporations. These crimes brought many to their knees financially, and yet we’re still hearing about them.

Shouldn’t the cases have been completed years ago? The fallout happened seven years ago, after all. What’s going on?

3 Reasons Why It Is Difficult to Prosecute White Collar Criminals

Usually when we hear of the charge and prosecution of a serious crime, the subsequent trial, conviction and sentencing are soon to follow. White collar crimes are a bit different, and the basic reason for this is because they’re somewhat difficult to prosecute. Why? In a New York Times article, Peter J. Henning points to the following reasons why certain white collar criminal cases pose difficulties:

  1. Some crimes, like insider trading, are hard to prove. When it comes to a white collar crime like insider trading, the burden of proof falls to the accusers. In the case of recent national economic events, the accusers are the US Justice Department and the S.E.C. (Securities and Exchange Commission). They have to prove that those involved received some tangible benefit from providing or receiving the tip. This can be hard to prove and many cases have been dismissed because of lack of proof.
  2. Federal District Court cases tend to take years. Cases argued within the Federal District Court are subject to the “full discovery” of evidence. This means that it can take years for each side to investigate and present evidence for or against a defendant. (Henning points out that the S.E.C. is pushing for administrative proceedings instead of cases being heard in Federal District Court as this will limit the amount of time allowed for discovery and to argue a case.)
  3. Legislative gridlock. When the national economy is at stake, politics very often play a role. With politicians divided as they currently are, getting anything accomplished can be difficult. There is a lot of back and forth between politicians about how to proceed with prosecuting such crimes, how much of a role the government should play and what the penalties should be. The result—resolution takes months, if not years because of the gridlock.

Why Contact a White Collar Criminal Attorney ASAP

While white collar crimes can be difficult to prosecute, it doesn’t mean that prosecutors are never successful. These types of crimes are still very serious and can do a lot of damage to your record and reputation if you’re accused and convicted of them. If you’ve been charged with fraud, forgery or embezzlement (to name just a few), contact the law office of John C. Fitzpatrick. We know the ins and outs of white collar crime law and will do our best to get your charges or sentence dropped or reduced.