The Importance of Establishing Intent in White Collar Crime Cases
There are two main elements that prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction in a criminal case: the criminal act and criminal intent. The first requires proof that a defendant committed an unlawful act, while the latter involves proving that a person intended to commit the crime in question. Proving intent plays an especially important role in white collar criminal prosecutions, as charges related to fraud don’t require proof that a person acted with force or made threats of violence. Fortunately, when prosecutors cannot fulfill this element, a defendant cannot be convicted, making it especially important for those who have been accused of committing a white collar crime, to speak with an experienced Seminole white collar crime attorney who can help them build a strong defense.
Levels of Intent
When attempting to prove that a defendant committed a white collar crime, prosecutors must provide proof of intent to defraud or evidence that a person purposely or knowingly intended to unlawfully deprive someone of funds or property. If, for instance, a person were being accused of bank fraud, he or she could not be convicted unless prosecutors proved that the defendant:
- Intended to obtain bank property or assets; and
- Obtained bank assets through the use of false or fraudulent pretenses, promises, or representations.
The exact level of intent that prosecutors must prove depends in large part on the specific crime in question. For instance, the level of intent required to convict someone of corporate fraud is different than the level of intent required when attempting to prove healthcare fraud.
Prosecutors can use a number of different types of evidence when trying to prove intent, but the most common include:
- Testimony from acquaintances, business partners, or others who were somehow involved in committing a crime;
- Written and electronic communication, such as emails and text messages revealing that a defendant intended to commit a crime;
- Evidence that the defendant tried to conceal criminal activity;
- Expert testimony from specialists in certain fields, such as accounting, securities, finance, and insurance;
- Proof of specific industry business practices;
- Proof of a defendant’s misrepresentations or false statements; and
- Evidence that a defendant personally profited from the offense in question.
When attempting to convict someone of a white collar crime, prosecutors often submit a vast amount of evidence to the court, including everything from business records and emails to meeting memos and reports. Even relatively simple white collar cases often involve enormous amounts of data and thousands of pages in discovery. For this reason, it is extremely important for defendants who have been charged with fraud-based crimes, to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can sift through and find weaknesses in this evidence.
Call Our Seminole Office Today
To speak with an experienced Seminole white collar crime lawyer about defending yourself against allegations of fraud, please call Reep Coleman & Stubbendorff at 727-330-6502 today. You can also reach a Seminole white collar crime attorney at our office by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing one of our brief online contact forms.