On behalf of Jeffrey Engle at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices LLC

A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania man was recently sentenced to almost three years imprisonment for alleged involvement in a white collar crime. The man was found guilty of failing to report certain assets to the Internal Revenue Service, a tax fraud crime. Due to implications of a previous conviction, the man could have been sentenced to over 20 years in prison for these charges.

Sentences associated with these non-violent crimes are the fodder for legal debate. Some experts argue these sentences are far too long. A recent article in Forbes magazine addressed this issue, highlighting cases where those serving for white collar crimes were imprisoned longer than murders. If the prison system is present to keep society safe and help rehabilitate offenders, it is difficult to argue that these long sentences are justified. After all, how is keeping those guilty of tax fraud in prison longer than those that are guilty of murder helping increase public safety?

Ultimately, the judge in the above case chose to sentence the man to less than three years of imprisonment. Although much shorter than the potential 20 year prison term, the penalty still seems harsh for the crime.

White collar crime basics

White collar crime is a legal term used to describe a group of non-violent offenses that generally lead to financial gain. Some more common examples include tax fraud, mortgage fraud, securities fraud and embezzlement.

Tax fraud or tax evasion occurs when an individual or business falsely completes tax forms or otherwise avoids meeting tax obligations. Mortgage fraud also involves providing false information. There are many forms of securities fraud, but perhaps the most commonly known is insider trading. Insider trading, a crime Martha Stewart served a prison sentence for, occurs when an individual receives information about a company that is not available to the public. If the individual makes investment decisions based on this information, he or she has committed a crime. Embezzlement occurs when an individual who has some legal obligation steals money. This could occur when a bank teller siphons money from a bank or a lawyer improperly uses funds from a client.

Serious penalties associated with white collar crime convictions

Regardless of the type of white collar crime an individual is charged with, the charges should be taken seriously. If these charges become a conviction, the accused could spend years or even decades in prison.

If you are charged with a similar crime, contact an experienced Pennsylvania white collar crimes attorney to better ensure your legal rights are protected.