Not all crime in North Carolina is created equally in terms of severity or punishment. Certain crimes are treated differently than others. For instance, felonies are treated more harshly under the law than misdemeanors. Similarly, hurting someone who picked a fight with you may be more justifiable than injuring someone in a DUI accident.
Crimes can also be distinguished from one another based on whether they are white-collar crimes or blue-collar crimes. While each type may be punished severely depending on the specific crime involved, a white-collar defendant often needs a different defense strategy than a defendant charged with a blue-collar crime.
White-Collar Crimes Explained
There is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes a white-collar crime. These crimes, though, are usually distinguished from blue-collar crimes because white-collar crimes often involve finances, computers, or elaborate deceptions.
Conversely, blue-collar crimes are usually offenses involving acts of violence or harm committed directly on the person or property of another.
Three common examples of white-collar crimes in North Carolina include:
Embezzling involves abusing your access to financial or other assets belonging to another and using those assets for your own purposes. A common scenario might be a company’s bookkeeper or accountant who writes personal checks from the company’s account and then covers up the expenditure in the company’s accounting books.
Embezzlement can go undetected for a significant period of time if companies and others who entrust their finances to third parties do not exercise sufficient oversight.
Identity theft is another white-collar crime because it does not typically involve any act of physical violence or the taking of physical property. Instead, an identity thief assumes the person or personal information of another and then obtains access to information, services, or property they would not otherwise have access to.
For example, an identity thief may assume a person’s identity and then use that person’s credit history and profile to open a loan in that person’s name.
Forgery involves either the act of making a false or fictitious document or possessing such a document to defraud a person, financial institution, or the government. Signing a check as if you were someone else with authority to do so, or creating a fake check that looks like a legitimate one, are both examples of forgery.
How a White-Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
Every criminal case is different and can involve one or more defenses as part of an overall strategy. In most white-collar crime cases, defenses like self-defense are not applicable.
Instead, other elements of the crime are attacked, or a defendant’s lawful authority to perform the alleged criminal acts is explored. For example, it is not embezzlement if your boss knows and allows you to write checks to yourself for expenses or as a bonus.
Partnering with a skilled North Carolina criminal defense law firm can allow a trained set of eyes to review and understand your criminal charges. Your attorney can then recommend the best strategies for defending yourself against the charges or mitigating the punishment you might face.