Every year, more than 10 million people are arrested in the United States. These arrests can cover a whole range of criminal activities and only some of them will lead to convictions.
However, as you probably already know, not all criminal activity receives the same punishment. Your punishment depends on the type of crime that you have been charged with and your personal criminal history.
So what will happen to you if you have been arrested for a crime? Well, firstly you need to understand whether you have been charged with white collar crimes or street crimes.
Not sure what this means? Then you’re in the right place! Read on to find out everything you need to know about the differences between street crimes and white collar crimes.
What Are White Collar Crimes?
First things first, what is a white collar crime? Well, these are usually classified as non-violent crimes that are carried out for financial benefit. They include:
It is important to note that these crimes can be committed on large or small scales. So you shouldn’t just associate them with corporate financial scandals.
Often white collar crimes are also associated with large-scale criminal operations. However, they can be committed in isolation. Or you can be charged with a white collar crime alongside other criminal charges.
For example, let’s say you lie about having a medical condition in order to get your hands on some prescription drugs. Regardless of what you plan to do with the drugs, that counts as fraud.
What Are Street Crimes?
While white collar crimes cover non-violent criminal activity, street crimes often involve bodily harm or intent to harm or crimes against property. These crimes usually involve a degree of violence and physical force. They include:
Murder and manslaughter
Assault (including aggravated assault and sexual assault)
Property crimes (such as arson or burglary)
In comparison to street crimes, white collar crimes often involve a lot of planning and deceit. However, as you will already have realized, street crimes can cause more than financial damage to their victims.
So does the US legal system punish these crimes differently? Let’s take a closer look.
Street Crimes vs. White Collar Crimes: How Do the Punishments Compare?
While you might assume that the non-violent nature of white collar crimes means they face more lenient punishments this isn’t always the case. In fact, a lot of white collar crimes are considered felonies and because of this, they can face serious punishments.
Anyone convicted of street crimes or white collar crimes will have to cover the cost of their prosecution. On top of this, you may face fines, prison time, and restitution costs.
Punishment for White Collar Crimes
The punishment for white collar crimes depends a lot on the severity of your crime. For example, large-scale crimes will receive more severe punishments.
In Florida, white collar crimes are punished as follows:
Up to 60 days jail time and/or fine of up to $500 for Second Degree Misdemeanors
Up to 1 year jail time and/or fines of up to $1,000 for First Degree Misdemeanors
Up to 5 years jail time and/or fines of up to $5,000 for Third Degree Felonies
Up to 15 years jail time and/or fines of up to $10,000 for Second Degree Felonies
Up to 30 years jail time and/or fines of up to $10,000 for First Degree Felonies
In some cases, you may face house arrest rather than jail time depending on your personal circumstances. Either way, it’s fair to say that Florida doesn’t take white collar crimes lightly!
On top of this, a conviction for a white collar crime can do serious damage to your personal and business reputation. These convictions will stay on your criminal record for the future. So you will not simply be able to walk away from a white collar conviction, even if you do avoid going to jail.
Punishment for Violent Crimes
Punishments for violent crimes are also determined using the misdemeanor and felony scales listed above. So someone convicted of a Third Degree Felony for a violent crime, for example, would also face up to 5 years in jail and fines of up to $5,000.
In general, people charged with violent crimes will face higher bail prices. This is because they are viewed as an immediate danger to society.
On top of this, some violent crimes will be tried as capital felonies or life felonies. These usually apply to cases of extreme violent crime, such as:
Anyone convicted of a capital felony can face a life sentence in jail or even a death sentence. Punishments for a life felony conviction include a life sentence in jail and fines of up to $15,000. If you are facing a white collar conviction then you should not have to worry about capital felony or life felony charges.
What Should You Do If You Are Facing Punishment for White Collar Crimes?
If you are facing a white collar crime charge then it is important to get support from an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. You need a lawyer with a good understanding of white collar criminal law. This will help them to reduce your charges and build a strong defense for you.
Some popular white collar crime defenses include:
Discrediting the evidence against you
Proving that you committed the crime under coercion
Proving that you were unaware of your criminal activity at the time
In order for your lawyer to put together a strong defense, it is important that you are honest with them. The more they understand about your case, the easier it will be to reduce your sentence or get the case thrown out.
Get Support Today
If you have been charged with white collar crimes then you could still be facing a significant fine or even jail time. So it is important to get on top of your defense as soon as possible.
In that case, get in touch today to find a lawyer with experience in white collar convictions. We’re here to help.
As a native Floridian and Tampa criminal defense attorney, my family history in Tampa spans generations. Since being admitted to The Florida Bar almost 20 years ago, I founded Hanlon Law and have gained extensive legal experience in criminal courtrooms in and around Tampa and throughout Florida.