Recently, a study done by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office highlighted perceived weaknesses in New York’s criminal laws in combating sophisticated online fraud and other white collar-crimes. The report recommends that the state of New York update its criminal laws in order to better combat white-collar felonies.

Among the report’s specific recommendations include the strengthening of laws against identity theft and against the theft of computer code. The report states that New York’s laws against white-collar crime have changed little since 1965, meaning that technology has effectively outpaced the law.

The report also focused on tax fraud, counterfeiting and fraud aimed at the elderly. It recommended changes to laws against money laundering, such as outlawing the structuring of cash transactions to avoid the reporting requirement.

White collar crimes are those committed not by professional criminals, but by well-educated professional workers. They all involve the acquisition of money through fraudulent means. These offenses include securities fraud and insider trading, where a trader acts on confidential information about a stock in order to gain an unfair advantage in the trading market. They can also involve embezzlement, where an employee steals money from the business that he or she has been entrusted with. White collar crimes are typically more sophisticated than other felonies, and they usually involve some financial aspect.

The punishment of white collar crimes typically depends on the severity of the offense. Penalties typically include jail sentences, fines, and the paying of restitution in order to compensate the victims for the money that they were cheated out of. The report in this case addressed an issue related to the sentencing, namely, that the severity of white collar crimes was not being reflected in the sentences imposed, a problem that it recommended the upgrading of New York’s criminal law as a solution.

Anyone accused of fraud or another white collar crime is entitled to a strong criminal defense and a presumption of innocence until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendants have the right to question witnesses, challenge the admissibility of evidence, and take other measures to preserve their freedom. Any defendant in a white collar crime case is entitled to win a vindication of their innocence.

Source: New York Times, “A call for new laws in New York to fight high-tech crime,” Peter Lattman, Sept. 24, 2013.