Oklahoma State Vs. Federal White Collar Crimes
There are a great many differences between Federal and State prosecutions, which an Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney like our team at Jacqui Ford Law could dwell upon for hours upon hours. However, for the sake of brevity, only a few items will be discussed in this blog.
Everyone has heard the old saying: “The Pen is mightier than the Sword.” If one gives some thought to the saying, it becomes self-evident, especially in a nation that has a very active First Amendment right.
There is a version of the above saying, utilized by Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys: “You can steal more with a Pen than you can with a gun.”
That’s where white collar crime comes in.
What is White Collar Crime in Oklahoma?
When you use the term “white collar crime” everyone thinks of “hot checks” or “bogus checks” or “bounced checks,” but white collar crimes comes in many forms:
- Ponzi schemes
- Fraud, both public and private
- Check kiting schemes
- Tax evasion and Fraud (note: it is not a crime to avoid taxes, but it is a crime to evade filing and paying your State and Federal taxes)
- False and fraudulent filing of claims with private employers and Government agencies
- Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security fraud
- Workers’ compensation fraud and false claims
The list goes on and on.
What is the difference between State and Federal White Collar Crime?
- The first and most important difference between State and Federal white collar crime is the jurisdiction.
The Federal Government’s jurisdiction over white collar crime is one of limited jurisdiction. Usually, the Federal government does not prosecute “hot checks,” and leaves that to local authorities. The exception is when there is “aggravated identity theft or an organized group conducting fraudulent transactions involving many different banks over state lines.”
For example, money theft from an FDIC licensed bank by a teller will bring a swift reaction from the Secret Service or the FBI because this is a Federal crime, with virtually exclusive jurisdiction by the federal government. Most importantly, the banks MUST report the theft to the appropriate law enforcement authorities, regardless of the fact that the money was paid back in full and the employee was terminated.
The same goes for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, The United States Postal Service, and ALL Military institutions. (Very few criminal defense attorneys realize that you can be issued a DUI by a Federal Agent on a lake patrolled by Federal law enforcement. The DUI is handled in Federal Court, just like any other Federal Crime. Many Federal Criminal defense attorneys have appeared in Federal Court with their clients charged with DUI, from a weekend of fun on a lake patrolled by Federal Agents, after driving their boat while under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately for them, it really does turn into a “Federal Case.”)
It is safe to say that Federal law enforcement and prosecutors more often than not will decline to file on a questionable jurisdiction rather than try to stretch the facts to bring a case into federal jurisdiction.
- The second difference between State and Federal white collar crime is the treatment of individuals who are convicted of a white collar crime.
In 1984, the United States Congress passed the United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) which attempted to achieve uniform sentences for all individuals convicted of a Federal Crime. Congress felt that there was a massive disparity between sentences across the United States between different Circuits and attempted to create a uniform sentencing regime.
To date, there have been over 100,000 cases involving the USSG and their sentencing. The U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Booker ruled that the USSG was “advisory” and not mandatory, thereby giving United States District Court Judges the ability and discretion to give a sentence that achieved the original purpose of the Federal sentencing regime.
The USSG created a schedule of “losses” based upon a dollar amount that was then assigned an “enhanced point amount” that increased the sentencing range of a person convicted of a “financial crime.” The dollar amount ranged from “zero to $25,000,000” and enhanced an individual’s sentencing range accordingly.
What else do I need to know about white collar crime in Oklahoma?
As is always the case with schedules and charts, they are subject to interpretation.
An example: an individual was convicted of stealing credit cards, and using those credit cards in the amount of $5000. The District Court added the credit limit of the credit cards and the potential loss and used the scheduling chart to enhance the individual’s prison sentence. In this example, the “actual” loss was $5000, but the credit card had a credit limit of $50,000. The Court increased the “loss” to $50,000 rather than $5000 because it had the potential of having a loss of $50,000, and sentenced the individual according. The Appellate Court agreed.
Under federal law, aggravated identify theft — which involves the actual “stealing of another person’s identity” — carries a minimum mandatory sentence of two (2) years, which is consecutive to the regular sentence a person would receive. Congress felt that if a thief actually stole someone’s identity, then they should be punished more harshly than a common thief that just used the credit card as it was printed.
The system established by the USSG leaves little room for any type of probation for a white collar crime. It is safe to say that all federal white collar crimes WILL result in actual prison time.
Additionally, the USSG virtually eliminated any type of probation or paper time. And while in federal prison, you must serve 85% of the sentence because there is no parole in the Federal system.
Contact Jacqui Ford Law today
If the federal government is after you for any type of white collar crime, you must obtain the professional services of an experienced federal criminal defense attorney, and you must do this as soon as possible.
Contact us today to learn how our team can help.