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Differences Between State and Federal White Collar Crimes

If a person has violated the annotated code of Maryland by committing a crime detailed within the criminal law section of the Maryland annotated code, he or she will be tried in a state court for a state offense. If, on the other hand, a person has violated a federal statute, he or she may face federal charges.

It is, therefore, very important for a person state or federal charges to contact a Maryland white collar crimes lawyer as soon as possible to ensure they can gain a better understanding of the charges against them and to receive a strong defense to combat these charges.

Elements of the Crime

An example of a white collar crime that may result in federal charges is commodities fraud. There are federal statutes that specifically regulate the manner in which an individual can buy or sell commodities. Because of this, an individual who engages in a fraud that involves commodities loss, such actions would be considered a federal offense. Another example of a federal crime would be embezzlement on the part of a broker as such crime falls under an area that is regulated by the federal government and, often, an individual must hold some sort of license or certificate issued by the federal government in order to work as a broker. If an individual falls within this category and begins embezzling money from a client, he or she may be committing a federal offense.

A popular example of a federal white collar crime is what is known as a Ponzi scheme. Essentially, a person would get people to invest their money in return for promised results. However, such results would not possible and the person would take individuals’ money and not invest in the way they had said they would. As a result of these actions, victims would lose large amounts of money that they had thought they were investing in rewarding ventures. Ultimately, these actions would result in the person being prosecuted and convicted in federal courts, with associated penalties of a federal prison sentence.

Thus, while state-level charges and convictions are very serious in and of themselves, federal level charges and convictions are often associated with much more severe consequences. More importantly, if an individual is sentenced to federal prison, he or she typically is ineligible for any kind of parole.

Being Charged with Both

An individual might be charged with concurrent federal and state white collar crimes if he or she engaged in behavior that violated both state and federal law. Thus, in order to be charged in both jurisdictions, he or she must have committed a very specific act detailed in both state and federal laws.

However, even if an individual violates both state and federal laws, he or she may not be charged at both levels. For example, if local authorities realize that a white collar crime is taking place, the prosecutor in that jurisdiction may contact the federal government. If the prosecutor’s federal counterpart determines that the crime is broader that the local jurisdiction, or that the individual has engaged in offenses across state lines, the federal government may choose to prosecute the individual. At this point, the state may not pursue its individual case as the penalties at the federal level are typically much more severe.