August 25, 2015

Federal Prosecution of White Collar Crime Hits Record Low?

Texas criminal defense attorney says new report claims federal prosecution of white-collar crime is the lowest rate that it has been in two decades.

A recent report on data released by the U.S. Department of Justice claims that the federal prosecution of white-collar crime has hit a new low. The total is stated to be 12 percent less than last year and 29 percent less than it was five years ago.


Source: International Business Times Report “US Prosecution of White Collar Crime Hits 20-Year Low: Report”


“Federal prosecution of white-collar crime has hit a 20-year low, according to a new report on Department of Justice data. The analysis of thousands of records by Syracuse University shows a more than 36 percent decline in such prosecutions since the middle of the Clinton administration, when the decline first began.”


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A number of factors have reportedly contributed to the decline in numbers including a difference in the way prosecution is handled when corporate executives and others are accused of related crimes. According to the Syracuse researchers, “The decline in federal white-collar crime prosecutions does not necessarily indicate there has been a decline in white-collar crime… Rather, it may reflect shifting enforcement policies by each of the administrations and the various agencies.”


In 2012, Lanny Breuer, who was then head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, indicated this may be so, asserting during a speech, “In reaching every charging decision, we must take into account the effect of an indictment on innocent employees and shareholders.”


A recent study by researchers at George Mason University tracking an increase in the use of special Justice Department agreements allowing some to avoid prosecution also helps provide support for this claim. Prior to 2003, the researchers found such deals being offered by the Justice Department were extremely rare. From 2007 to 2011; however, in 44 percent of white-collar crime cases the resolution came from deferred prosecution agreements and non-prosecution agreements.


According to Texas based criminal defense attorney Mick Mickelsen, the decline in the prosecution of these cases on a federal level is also attributed to a shift in the priorities of the Justice Department following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Says the attorney, “Since 9/11 it was my perception that the prosecution of white collar crime had become less of a priority in the Department of Justice. After 9/11 the government focused its efforts on anti-terrorism. Because there was very little evidence of domestic terrorism, that focus, in fact was directed towards immigration fraud and related matters and characterized as anti-terrorism.


“Despite the public discourse about taking a different approach to non-violent drug offenders, there are many non-violent drug offenders who are dealing large quantities of illegal substances. One Federal drug prosecution tends to beget numerous other such prosecutions so that at least in Texas the Federal criminal dockets tend to be dominated by these cases.”


For Those Accused of White Collar Crimes


Some charges of fraud, embezzlement, cybercrime, or other illegal acts that fall under the category of white-collar crime may appear to be clear-cut violations of the law; however, there are cases where an accusation against a business or government official is unfounded. It is important that those who are accused of any type of white-collar crime understand that the threat of federal prosecution should not make them feel coaxed into a plea agreement or untrue admission of guilt.


Business and government officials who have questions about their legal options if they have been accused of a white-collar crime, can contact the Dallas based criminal defense law firm of Broden Mickelsen Helms & Snipes for information about getting legal help for their case.



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