In 2014, the Bureau of Justice (BJS) conducted a study regarding white-collar crimes and their handling in various jurisdictions.
However, what precisely classifies as a “white-collar crime” is rather abstract. For the sake of this study, the BJS defines it as: “Any violation of law committed through non-violent means, involving lies, omissions, deceit, misrepresentation, or violation of a position of trust, by an individual or organization for personal or organizational benefit”. These offenses range from fraud (bank fraud, consumer fraud, insurance fraud, medical fraud, securities fraud, tax fraud) to environmental offenses and false claims and statements.
These cases are notoriously difficult to track through the legal system. Because of their broad definition, many of them can be tried as a civil or criminal case. In some cases, these crimes can even be tried as both criminal and civil cases. The research also suggests that the most common offenses were medical fraud, insurance fraud, and false claims.
Methods of Determining Jurisdiction of White Collar Crime
The survey, conducted by the Survey of State Attorneys General (SAG) in 2015, spanned all 50 states. Data collection began in January of 2015 and concluded in September 2015. The purpose of this survey was to identify which offices had closed white-collar related cases during 2014. However, some offices could not identify a true count of their total cases and relied on estimates instead. This variation in reporting excluded the case count from the results.
Following the submission period, the National White Collar Crime Agency (NW3C) in collaboration with the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) collected the data for processing. Two meetings with subject matter experts were held to define white-collar crime appropriately and what items should be included in the survey itself.
Currently occupied US territories were excluded from the testing field, for lack of proper data collection systems. The states who chose not to respond included Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon and West Virginia. Ohio only reported that their attorney general office held jurisdiction in criminal and civil white-collar cases. Arkansas failed to report any usable information for the survey. Wyoming reported no white-collar cases in 2014. And finally, Indiana, Michigan and Missouri provided a combined response to the survey.
The report itself details how different states managed trials regarding various white-collar crimes. Each state assigns its Attorney General’s office specific responsibilities, including what sort of crimes they are responsible for trying. Of the 50 states in America, only 44 responded. Forty-two reported that they had jurisdiction over criminal white-collar cases. Thirty-six offices stated they had jurisdiction over only civil cases. Also, 33 of these states reported that their attorney general had jurisdiction over both civil and criminal lawsuits. Some of these states also share jurisdiction with local prosecutors.
Guilty Verdict Leads to Heavy Sanctions
The BJS reported that most attorney general offices had various responses to a guilty verdict. In 39 states where the attorney general has criminal jurisdiction over white-collar cases, the sanctions imposed at sentencing included: some form of restitution or fines, probation, imprisonment, suspended sentences and court costs. In 26 states who prosecuted civil, white-collar cases, these sanctions included restitution or fines as the primary punishment. Suspended or licenses revoked licenses and dissolution of business also ranked as the most common outcomes of these cases.
Referrals from Outside Sources
The report also mentions that most attorney general offices received white-collar cases from various sources. These sources included citizen victims, law enforcement, and other, similar state and local agencies. With that said, local or state law enforcement referred the most white-collar cases to the attorney general. Some offices, however, also reported that they referred some cases out to local prosecutors instead. According to the report, 29 offices referred white-collar cases to local prosecutors. Thirty-nine offices referred out to state regulatory agencies.
Only three attorney generals with criminal jurisdiction over cases did not refer to any federal prosecutors. Six states with criminal jurisdiction did not refer to local prosecutors. Also, only two offices with criminal white-collar jurisdiction did not refer to any state regulatory agencies.
Interestingly, 25 of the attorney general offices who responded stated they either provided legal support to other state agencies or had a dedicated white-collar crime unit.
Contact Brandon Sample
If you are in need of assistance in a white collar crime related matter, call Brandon Sample, Esq. An experienced federal criminal defense attorney and sentencing advocate who is passionate about justice inside and outside of our federal prison system, Brandon will fight hard for your cause. Call today at 802-444-HELP.
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