The burden of proof does not fall on your Denver criminal lawyer in a criminal case, but rather on the prosecution. Basically, this means the prosecutor must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict him of a crime.

The elements that the prosecutor needs to prove in order to convince the jury of the defendant’s guilt will vary on a case-by-case basis. For example, a prosecutor needs to prove that a DUI defendant was intoxicated at the time of his arrest in order to secure a DUI conviction. But in a white collar crime case, the prosecutor must focus on proving the defendant’s intent.

If you are facing white collar crime charges, it’s important to understand the crime you are being accused of committing in addition to how your intent will impact the outcome of your case.

What Is A White Collar Crime?

The term “white collar crime” is used to describe a number of different criminal offenses, including:

  • Embezzlement
  • Mortgage fraud
  • Bank fraud
  • Tax fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Identity theft

White collar crimes are non-violent offenses that are usually committed by people who are motivated by financial gain. For example, a man may commit tax fraud by lying about his financial situation so he can avoid paying taxes. These crimes are referred to as white collar crimes because they are typically committed by professionals or executives.

Most white collar crimes are felonies in the state of Colorado. The penalties for a white collar crime conviction can vary depending on the nature of the crime and the value of the property involved. But, the most serious consequences include lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines.

Having a white collar crime conviction on your record can affect your career, too. Employers may not want to hire someone who has been convicted of committing a crime for their own financial gain. For this reason, the consequences of a conviction can continue to affect your life long after the prison sentence is over.

What Role Does Intent Play in White Collar Crime Cases?

All white collar crimes share one thing in common: intent. The legal definition of each white collar crime states that a person is not guilty unless he intended on committing the crime. For example, insurance fraud is defined as the act of submitting false information to an insurance company with the intent to defraud the company.

The law defines each white collar crime in this manner to ensure that people who did not mean to commit the crime are not penalized. For instance, let’s say you overstate the value of an insured item that was stolen when submitting an insurance claim. Submitting false information to an insurance company is insurance fraud, but your intent will determine whether or not you actually committed this crime. If it was an honest mistake, you did not commit insurance fraud because your intent was not to defraud the insurance company.  You engaged in an illegal activity unintentionally. But, if you purposely overstated the value of the claim so you could get a larger payout from the insurance company, this is considered insurance fraud. This is why intent plays such a major role in every white collar crime case.

How Does A Prosecutor Prove Intent?

In a white collar crime case, the prosecutor will focus on proving that the defendant intended on committing the crime. But, how can prosecutors possibly prove that they know what the defendant was thinking?

Prosecutors use various types of evidence to try to prove intent in white collar crime cases. Sometimes, they will call the defendant’s colleagues, business partners, or other acquaintances to the stand to testify. These witnesses may provide testimony that proves you intended on committing the crime.

Prosecutors use different forms of written and electronic communication as evidence, too. Emails, text messages, and other forms of communication may reveal that you did intend on committing a crime.

Evidence that shows you tried to conceal your criminal activity may prove intent as well. Consider the insurance fraud example mentioned above. The prosecutor may present evidence that you tried to destroy the stolen item’s valuation documents so there was no proof that you overstated the value in your insurance claim. In this case, the prosecution would argue that you must have intended to defraud the company otherwise you would not have tried to cover your tracks by destroying these documents.

Vast amounts of evidence are typically submitted in white collar crime cases. The prosecutor will try to use the evidence to prove your guilt, which is why it’s important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side who can poke holes in the prosecution’s case.

How Can A Criminal Defense Attorney Help Your White Collar Crime Case?

Each white collar crime case is unique. But, arguing that you did not have the intent to commit the crime is often the best defense strategy in a white collar crime case.

Your attorney will need to quickly analyze the evidence to look for opportunities to weaken the prosecution’s case. What evidence is the prosecutor presenting to prove your intent? How can you poke holes in this evidence? Sometimes, this means presenting additional evidence that fills in incriminating gaps in the prosecution’s story. Other times, it means questioning the reliability of evidence that the prosecution presents in order to put doubt in the jurors’ minds. The goal is to show the jury that you did not intentionally commit a crime for financial gain.

A criminal defense attorney can help even if you have not been officially charged with a white collar crime yet. In fact, it’s wise to hire an attorney as soon as you find out you are under investigation instead of waiting for criminal charges to be filed. Having an attorney on your side during the investigation may help you avoid criminal charges altogether.

If you have been accused of committing a white collar crime, there’s no time to waste. Seek legal representation from experienced criminal defense attorney Daniel M. Murphy as soon as possible.

By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.