White-collar offenses are financial crimes, often committed in the course of employment or otherwise involving a betrayal of trust. White-collar crimes expose offenders to a risk of incarceration. Here are five things to know about sentencing if you think you might be convicted of white-collar crime.
White-Collar Offenders May Be Eligible for a Deferred Judgment
A white-collar offender who is likely to be found guilty may want to seek a deferred judgment. The offender will typically plead guilty and, if the court grants a deferred judgment, will be placed on probation.
Since the judgment is deferred, the offender does not immediately acquire a criminal conviction. If the offender completes probation successfully, the judgment is never entered and no criminal conviction occurs.
Deferred judgments are generally available only to offenders who have no criminal record and who have not been given a deferred judgment in the past. A deferred judgment is not authorized for every crime, but the Iowa legislature has authorized deferred judgments for nearly all white-collar crimes.
Iowa White-Collar Crimes Do Not Require a Minimum Sentence
A conviction for robbery or a few other violent crimes in Iowa subjects an offender to a mandatory minimum sentence. In other words, the sentencing judge has no choice about imposing a sentence of incarceration for at least a specified length of time.
White-collar crime convictions in Iowa do not carry mandatory minimum sentences. While judges can impose a sentence of incarceration, they are not required to do so. White-collar criminal defense lawyers make every effort to persuade prosecutors and judges that a jail or prison sentence is not an appropriate response to a client’s conduct.
Iowa Law Makes Alternatives to Incarceration Available for White-Collar Convictions
If an offender who is convicted of a white-collar crime does not receive a deferred judgment, other options may help the offender avoid incarceration. Probation is an option that courts seriously consider for most financial crimes. Probation allows offenders to continue working, to pay restitution, and to make a meaningful contribution to society.
The court will usually defer a sentence when placing an offender on probation. No sentence of incarceration is imposed unless the offender’s probation is revoked. The court can also impose and suspend a sentence. When that happens, the offender serves the suspended sentence if probation is revoked.
Paying Restitution Can Help a White-Collar Offender Avoid Incarceration
Courts do not invoke the “no harm, no foul” principle when white-collar offenders pay back the funds they misappropriated, but judges are more likely to be lenient when the offender has made restitution. While restitution will always be ordered at sentencing if the victim experienced an uninsured loss, there can be significant advantages to paying restitution prior to sentencing.
Assuming a client can afford to pay it, white-collar criminal defense lawyers will often offer restitution as an inducement for a prosecutor’s agreement to a favorable resolution. Since restitution can be used as a bargaining chip, it is usually better for white-collar offenders to obtain legal advice before they decide to pay restitution.
Federal Judges Are Not Required to Follow Harsh Sentencing Guidelines for Federal White-Collar Crimes
Some white-collar offenses can be charged as either a federal or state crime. Federal white-collar crimes, like their Iowa counterparts, do not usually carry mandatory minimum sentences. However, federal judges must consider sentencing guidelines that, in cases involving large losses, may recommend harsh sentences.
Fortunately, the federal guidelines are no longer mandatory. A skilled white-collar defense lawyer may be able to persuade a federal judge to give a much shorter sentence than the guidelines recommend. Given the risk that attaches to any federal charge, seeking the immediate help of a Cedar Rapids white-collar criminal defense lawyer is essential to a good outcome.
You might also want to read about the consequences of a white-collar crime conviction in Iowa.
We can provide aggressive criminal defense against different types of charges.
Contact the Law Office of Raphael M. Scheetz to schedule an initial consultation regarding your case. Whether you are a first-time offender or you have a prior conviction, we can help you minimize the penalties you may face if convicted.