In New York, a conviction for a white-collar crime is not an easy thing
to live with - legally, physically, socially and professionally. The penalties
can vary, depending on the level of crime and defendant's particular
In general, most laws create a monetary fine, time behind bars or both.
It is important to recognize that criminal laws allow for maximum penalties;
however, with good legal representation, many defendants receive less
than the highest level of sentencing.
Several jurisdictions follow sentencing guidelines, but these can vary
from place to place. The purpose of the guidelines is to make certain
that punishment is uniform among offenders. If too much discretion is
given to the court, this could create a lot of variety among criminal cases.
On the other hand, it is important to recognize that the guidelines take
into account the details of the crime, as well as the prior criminal history
of the offender. In special cases, the court may consider specific remedial
factors, which could allow for a downward departure in the sentencing
- one that deviates slightly from the guidelines. For example, defendants
with no criminal history could be sentenced to probation or experience
a suspended or reduced sentence.
General sentencing guidelines for white-collar crime in New York
New York's legal system lays out the state's sentencing guidelines
for white-collar crime penalties in Articles 70 and 80. Again, however,
fines and prison time may vary, depending on the circumstances of the
Each crime is assigned a specific Class, and each Class is associated with
a specific maximum penalty. For example, a
Class C felony can result in 15 years behind bars and (or) a fine up to $5,000.
On the other hand, Class D felonies carry a maximum seven-year prison sentence
and (or) a fine of up to $5,000. However, Class E felonies can result
in four years behind bars or a fine of not more than $5,000.
Class A misdemeanors carry a one-year prison sentence and fines, which
do not exceed $1,000. Yet, Class B misdemeanor convictions can lead to
three months in prison and (or) $500 in fines.
In many cases, courts may assign a fine that equates to double the defendant's
gain from the offense (in lieu of the maximum penalty). In line with this
theory, if the defendant's gain cannot be quantified, sentencing can
consider the victim's loss in calculating the appropriate fines for
However, aside from standard penalties, a white-collar crime offender may
face other serious repercussions. For example, many white-collar crimes
bring about civil suits, too.
Civil suits are often brought by the federal or state government. Independent
victims of the offense can also initiate them. It is important to recognize
that civil liability is separate from criminal sanctions. Therefore, civil
liability as a result of a white-collar crime is supplemental to charges
imposed in a criminal matter.
The government might initiate a civil matter that involves disgorgement,
which involves handing over profits obtained pursuant to the crime. This
could also involve restitution payments, which should be provided to victims
of the offense. In some matters, the government might try asset forfeiture.
This means any property bought with the earnings of the white-collar offense
would be taken.
In addition, victims of crimes can initiate their own civil cases, which
aim to recover any money losses suffered as a result of the crime. Many
white-collar offenders receive both criminal and civil repercussions.
However, some consequences go beyond the courtroom. Some penalties exist
after the legal turmoil is complete.
Physical consequences: time behind bars
Some offenders garner physical consequences of the conviction. Most white-collar
crimes are served in low-security environments. However, this is not always
the case. The ultimate decision on where a person completes time is often
left to presiding correctional authorities. Of course, authorities attempt
to place offenders in the appropriate facilities, but a defendant could
be sent to a high-security institution.
High-security institutions severely limit the rights of offenders. As a
result, many housed in such facilities struggle physically and emotionally,
as the restrictive setting takes a toll on offenders' wellbeing.
Social and professional consequences
After time is served, the impact of a white-collar conviction can still
linger. A convicted person may experience difficulty maintaining or retaining
The problem is that white-collar crimes are offenses that typically involve
dishonesty and deceit. As a result, many employers are hesitant to employ
an individual that has been found guilty of a crime of dishonesty. The
conviction, in itself, suggests that the person is disloyal and untrustworthy.
Specifically, it could be difficult to secure a job involving business
records or money.
Furthermore, if the convicted defendant is a non-citizen, he or she may
have to deal with removal and other immigration-related consequences.
In fact, even if a person is a lawful and permanent resident that is living
and employed in the United States on a valid work visa, a white-collar
crime conviction could mean removal from the country. Additionally, a
criminal sanction could affect one's overall ability to become a citizen.
Ultimately, white-collar crimes carry serious challenges - in New York
and elsewhere. Those convicted of a crime will undoubtedly confront stigma
in the community and the professional environment. The ramifications of
a conviction can strip the most powerful person of basic human rights.
If you would like to learn more about federal and state white-collar crimes,
it is best to consult with a legal professional. As you face any charges
ahead, you will have to familiarize yourself with not only criminal, but
also civil and social matters. The good news is that a professional versed
in federal and state criminal defense laws can help you prepare your case,
and at worst, help alleviate potential consequences in the sentencing
portion of your criminal matter.
Do not let your matter consume the rest of your life. A person who practices
the law can help you assess your options. To learn more, speak with a
seasoned white-collar crime professional in the New York area.