4 Ways Authorities Attempt to Prove White Collar Crime

There is a Latin term, “mens rea” which often comes into play when proving the guilt or innocence of a person charged with a white collar criminal offense, such as fraud or money laundering. The term literally means “guilty mind” and is an essential element of a prosecution. It is necessary to establish that the defendant not only broke the law, but they also did so willfully and intentionally. There are several ways to prove mens rea. This article discusses some of those methods.

1. Intent

If a crime was committed with the express purpose of breaking the law or to jeopardize public safety, this element is referred to as intent. It basically means that the defendant conducted himself with the knowledge and intention to commit a crime. Since it involves proof of the defendant’s state of mind, it may not always be capable of proof by direct evidence (like a confession of guilt). Rather, intent may be established based upon the “totality of the circumstances.” For example, in a money laundering case, if thousands of dollars appear in the defendant’s bank account from suspicious sources, and the money is withdrawn or used by the defendant to purchase items or pay bills, it can be inferred that the defendant had the required intent to commit the crime.

2. Knowledge

To convict someone of a white collar crime, the prosecution must prove that the defendant was aware that she was committing the crime. This means that their actions were motivated by a desire to knowingly and intentionally gain unlawful financial advantage.

3. Disguise and Concealment

The defendant committed the crime while hiding or concealing the real intentions of their acts. This means that the criminal violation was disguised as another activity in order to avoid getting caught.

4. Deliberate Ignorance

Deliberate ignorance is also called “willful blindness.” This is akin to the old adage of an ostrich sticking its head in the ground to keep from seeing something. An example of this would be accepting $10,000 to deliver a briefcase to someone. The question is: “Why would someone pay $10,000 to have a briefcase delivered when they could simply send it by FedEx for $50?”  The answer typically is because the briefcase contained something illegal. In such a scenario, the law takes a position that the accused “knew or should have known” that the contents of the briefcase were illegal.

Getting an experienced and aggressive attorney can go a long way toward defending yourself against white collar criminal allegations. To protect your freedom, it is advisable to get a strong legal defense team that will build a solid case for you to get a reduced sentence or even the charges dropped entirely.

The two most popular defenses used by lawyers are entrapment and absence of intent. Entrapment suggests that you were coerced by law enforcement into committing the crime and that you would not have done so without the influence of government officials or law enforcement. Absence of intent, on the other hand, asserts that a crime was indeed committed, but the defendant was not aware that they were breaking the law. In simpler words, you are pleading ignorance. Other defenses commonly used in white-collar cases include intoxication, incapacity, and duress. In these cases, the defendant argues that his or her behavior was caused by circumstances beyond their control.

If you find yourself in the middle of a white collar criminal investigation, you can count on Barry M. Wax to help you fight against any possible charges. With a mixture of experience and vast knowledge of white collar crimes, Barry Wax can present a solid defense for your case and seek the best outcome for your case. Get in touch today at (305) 373-4400.

Law Offices of Barry M. Wax