Do people go to prison for white collar crimes?

Do people go to prison for white collar crimes?

White collar crime is the term used to describe financially-motivated offences that are committed in the line of a professional’s duties at work. It’s important to realise that these kind of crimes are taken very seriously by the authorities as financial crime is the cause of billions of pounds of lost revenue to the UK economy each year. Certainly it is a mistake to assume that an offence will somehow be deemed less serious if it is being investigated by a government authority such as HMRC rather than the police.

That said, there are very often mitigating factors or exceptional circumstances associated with white collar crime cases and it is possible to be falsely accused of a white collar offence or unwittingly involved in criminal activities that have been taking place within an organisation.

What are white collar crimes?

There are many types of offence in this category, which means there is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to white collar law. Common examples include:

  • Bribery
  • Cyber crime
  • Embezzlement
  • False accounting and expense claims
  • Identity theft
  • Insider trading
  • Money laundering
  • Pension fraud
  • Ponzi and pyramid schemes
  • Tax evasion
  • Tax fraud
  • Theft
  • VAT fraud

What are the consequences of white collar offences?

Purcell Parker’s specialist white collar solicitors are highly experienced in defending people who have been accused of committing a business crime. Often our clients are successful professionals with no previous experience of being investigated by the police or financial authorities. Due to this, when they find themselves in this unfamiliar and upsetting situation, often the first question we hear is, ‘will I go to prison?’

Of course, the answer to this question will depend on the nature and severity of the allegations, but at Purcell Parker it is our job to make sure that wherever possible, the answer to that question will be ‘no.’ While it is true that in the most serious of white collar cases, prison sentences are a real possibility, the first priority is for us to establish the facts of the case and agree the best course of action, based on our extensive experience successfully defending white collar investigations.

What does the process involve?

Purcell Parker’s offices are conveniently located for many business people in Birmingham city centre. However, as our track record of successfully defending cases at Southwark Crown Court where many serious fraud cases are heard shows, we are often able to defend cases further afield.

We appreciate that being accused of a criminal offence at work is an incredibly stressful experience, so we may be able to meet you at a time and location of your choosing for your initial consultation, which will always take place on a free, no-obligation basis.

Certainly, as soon as you are aware of any allegations against you, it’s essential to speak to an experienced white collar solicitor who is best placed to provide non-judgemental, plain English support and advice designed to secure the best possible outcome for your case.

What prison sentences are possible for white collar crime?

Maximum sentences for cases heard at the Crown Court include:

  • Bribery – 10 years
  • Cyber crime – life imprisonment
  • Insider trading – 7 years
  • Money laundering – 14 years
  • Tax evasion – 7 years

It is important to remember that these are the maximum consequences for the most serious and often high-profile white collar investigations, committed on a large scale. Many less serious white collar cases are heard at the Magistrates Court where a maximum sentence of six months is a more likely worst-case scenario.

Is it possible to pay a fine instead?

In some less serious cases of white collar crime, it is certainly possible to pay a fine as an alternative punishment to imprisonment and in cases where this is appropriate, our solicitors have a proven track record in securing this for clients. However, it is important to remember that being sentenced to a term in prison does not automatically mean a financial penalty will not also be given. Indeed, in the most serious cases where long prison sentences are handed out, unlimited fines are often imposed too.

The amount of any fine will of course depend on the nature and severity of the offence. For example, a fine of up to £5,000 can be imposed at the Magistrates Court in tax evasion cases. For evasion of VAT, this rises to £20,000.

Are there any other possible consequences?

As well as a fine, confiscation of money or assets is also possible under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Also, the court may decide it is appropriate to ban you from working as a company director in the future.

First class white collar defence solicitors on your side

If you are being investigated for a white collar offence, please call Purcell Parker on 0121 236 9781 to find out how our solicitors can help. The possibility of significant financial consequences is a huge part of the stress of being investigated for a white collar offence so if possible, Purcell Parker may be able to provide you with a fixed fee quote for your case.