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New York seeks to revamp white-collar laws

Recently, the New York District Attorneys Association formed a task force dedicated to reforming the state's laws against white collar crime. The task force will be comprised of 23 people, with both prosecutors and defense attorneys represented. The task force will recommend new legislation to close loopholes in laws against white collar crime, and to increase sentences for fraud, corruption and other felonies. Federal law is generally considered to be tougher on white collar crime than the laws of the states, and the task force convened by the DA's association is an attempt to remedy this. The ultimate aim of the task force is to modernize New York's laws and to bring them more in line with federal law.

White Collar Crime is a broad term used to describe various crimes committed through deceit with the ultimate motive of financial gain. This term is used to describe fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion and money laundering. Various fraudulent schemes such as "Ponzi" schemes and insider trading also fall into this category.

Defendants convicted of white collar crimes face stiff penalties under Federal and state laws, including substantial jail sentences and hefty fines. In addition, the defendant must pay back to the victims any money that he or she gained fraudulently. There is also the problem of having a felony conviction on one's permanent record, as this can have negative employment and/or immigration consequences, which in turn can impact one's personal freedom and livelihood.

Fortunately, anyone accused of a white collar crime is entitled to a strong criminal defense. He or she is entitled to challenge the constitutionality of the court's proceedings or the search and seizure of evidence. He or she may challenge the admissibility of evidence provided by the state and may question any witnesses the state provides. Any defendant in a white collar case has the right to fight the charges tooth and nail.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "DA's Association to Take Fresh Look at White-Collar Laws," Reed Albergotti, Oct. 23, 2012

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