FAQ: How are the penalties for convictions relating to white collar crimes different than for other crimes?

There are multiple ways that a person can be convicted of a white collar crime. Federal or state authorities can charge an individual criminally, or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) can bring a federal civil proceeding.

Securities laws regulate the sale of stocks, bonds, and other securities. Securities laws prohibit fraudulent conduct both criminally and civilly, but the SEC only handles civil enforcement. This means that an individual can be prosecuted in both a federal criminal and civil proceeding for violating the same securities law. This can result in devastating consequences for an individual, especially given the many punitive measures that can be taken if convicted.

Most of us know that in both a state and federal criminal proceeding, sentences can range from prison to monetary fines to both. This also applies to federal criminal proceedings involving violations of securities laws.

In civil proceedings brought by the SEC, penalties include temporary or permanent injunctions (orders prohibiting individuals from beginning or continuing an action) such as a cease and desist order prohibiting the running of a business. SEC penalties also include monetary penalties including fines and disgorgement (the return of illegal profits), as well as bars from association with the securities industry.

This is one of the reasons handling a white collar crime can be more complex than other crimes, and an important reason you should choose an experienced attorney in white collar matters who is able to handle and anticipate such complex matters.

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