White collar crimes is an umbrella term for criminal offenses that are typically nonviolent and involve financial transactions. They are crimes committed by persons who sometimes but not always have a fiduciary responsibility to or is in a position of trust with the alleged victim. The State of Illinois -- as well as the federal government -- pursues these types of crimes aggressively.
If you know you are being investigated for or have already been charged with a white collar crime, you need the experience, insight, and resources that Dolci & Weiland have to offer. Our white collar crime attorneys will investigate and build a strategic, smart defense based on the facts and circumstances of your case. We know all too well just how serious these charges can be. But we also know fighting the charges is your best bet to getting them dismissed or reduced. Contact our office today to schedule a free initial consultation.
What are Common White Collar Crimes in the Greater Chicago Metro Area?
Though white collar crimes are often the result of federal investigations and charges, Illinois conducts its own extensive investigations into white collar crimes and will file charges under Illinois statutes. Illinois State Statute for White Collar Crime (720 ILCS 5/33 et seq.) establishes crimes included within the umbrella of white collar crimes as well as the elements necessary to convict a person of the offense.
The most common white collar crimes occurring in DuPage County and Cook County are:
- Credit card fraud
- Identity theft
- Tax evasion
- Money laundering
Below are brief descriptions of each of these offenses.
Fraud acts as another umbrella term for different types of fraud charges. Fraud, however, typically refers to an offense where the alleged suspect used deceptive means, told lies, or used otherwise unlawful means for his or her own financial gain in the form of goods, services, or money. Examples of fraud charges include:
- Credit card fraud
- Bank fraud
- Check fraud
- Charities fraud
- Wire fraud
- Mail fraud
- Fake ID
- Work-from-home scams
- Pyramid schemes
- Securities fraud (i.e., insider trading)
- And more.
Identity theft is also a type of fraud, but it is so prevalent and pervasive it is often referred to as separate and distinct from fraud offenses. Identity theft occurs when a person uses another person's identifying information to unlawfully benefit him or herself financially or through services and goods. The most common way this offense is committed is through theft of a credit card and using that credit card to make purchases for him or herself.
Forgery is a crime that occurs when a person changes or creates a document with the intention of defrauding another person or entity. For example, if a person signs a check using someone else's name, this act is forgery.
You have probably heard the saying: there are only two things you have to do in this life, pay taxes and die. Like death, you can't avoid paying your taxes. But many people try to use evasive, criminal means. Tax evasion is particularly serious because it involves the Internal Revenue Service, and as such, are usually charged federally.
Embezzlement is a white collar crime occurring when a person -- in a trusted legal or public position -- uses his or her position to financially benefit him or herself unlawfully. For example, a manager of a grocery store is in a position of trust to manage the store's finances (among other tasks) for the owner of the store. If the manager is taking money from the store and using it to benefit him or herself, then this is embezzlement.
Money laundering is often an offense charged alongside other white collar crimes. Money laundering occurs when a person takes illegally acquired money or goods and hides it in some capacity, including investing it in something (e.g., a business or charity project) to make it appear as though the money was obtained lawfully. Money laundering does not account for the crime used to illegally obtain the money. For example, a person may acquire large sums of money via identity theft and then put that money into real estate. This person would be charged with identity theft and money laundering.
Bribery is an offense that occurs when a person tries to pay someone else through money, services, or goods in order to influence the person to do something that benefits the alleged offender. In many cases, a judge or another public official may be bribed to decide a case one way or another or to agree to a legal matter one way or another. If the judge or public official did so due to the influence of another (via payment of some kind), then this is bribery.
How Does the State of Illinois Prosecute White Collar Crimes?
White collar crimes are prosecuted by the State of Illinois as both misdemeanors and felonies, but because these crimes -- though grouped under one umbrella -- are so distinct and different, they are charged and prosecuted differently.
The one common distinction determining whether a crime is filed as a misdemeanor or felony, however, is the value of the financial benefit. Typically, if the value of the sum of money, goods, or services obtained via the commission of a white collar crime is less than $500, then the charge is likely to be a misdemeanor. Anything higher is usually charged as a felony.
Another common element among these crimes is that they are crimes of intent. You must have intended to do the thing you are alleged to have done in order to be convicted. The State of Illinois must prove the same, along with all other elements of the specific crime(s) you have been charged with.
What Penalties Can Be Expected if Convicted of a White Collar Crime in DuPage or Cook Counties?
As each separate offense under the umbrella white collar crimes is different and distinct, penalties will be specific to the crime and circumstances surrounding the crime. For example, if an alleged offender has a prior conviction, the penalties for the same crime may be higher than a first-time offender. It also depends if you were charged and convicted of more than one crime. For example, a person could be convicted of theft and money laundering and will be sentenced for both. As it is, penalties to be expected really depend on the particularly white collar offense and facts and circumstances of the offense.
You can, however, anticipate any of the following to be included in your sentencing if you are convicted:
- Community Service
- Property Forfeiture.
Some offenses may carry mandatory minimum sentences without the option of probation, like the offense of fraud involving a church or school.
Are There Defenses to White Collar Crimes in Illinois?
Like almost all criminal offenses, there are potential defenses to white collar crime allegations. Some of the more likely defense include:
- Insufficient evidence
- Absence of intent to commit the crime
- Violation of a constitutional right (unlawful search & seizure)
To learn if any of these defenses apply to your case, it is important to contact a criminal defense attorney at Dolci & Weiland. Our attorneys will put together a defense strategy that incorporates any valid defense. Absent a defense, our attorney will still put together a defense strategy that aims to weaken the State's case against you. So, remember: you can only be convicted if the elements of the crime were proven beyond a reasonable doubt. We at Dolci & Weiland intend to create the doubt necessary to favor you.
Contact an Aggressive White Collar Crimes Defense Attorney in the Greater Chicago Metro Area Today
White collar crimes -- given their nature and complexity -- require specialized knowledge of the law. At Dolci & Weiland, our white collar crime attorneys have this knowledge and the necessary insight required to help you get the best outcome possible if not dismissal or reduced charges. Contact us today to get started on your defense.