White collar criminal charges such as insider trading and securities fraud can involve millions – even billions – of dollars and result in significant prison time upon conviction. A change in how the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) approaches these matters is of great-significance due to their potential reach.
As reported by Reuters (“U.S. Justice Dept to lessen overlap on white-collar crime, change penalties: Rosenstein”), the DOJ has recently launched efforts to work with other jurisdictions to reduce overlap and ensure that penalties are not disproportionate.
“It is important for us to be aggressive in pursuing wrongdoers. But we should discourage disproportionate enforcement by laws of multiple authorities,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said during a speech to the New York City Bar White Collar Crime Institute.
What the Changes Mean
It appears the DOJ is recognizing the need to adjust their approach to white collar crimes enforcement to match the reality of the world we live in. While few dispute the need for tough criminal penalties, the reality is the total punishment an individual receives is often well in excess of what our laws call for.
Jurisdictional overlap can result in penalties stacked on top of penalties when prosecutors in multiple jurisdictions seek to make an example out of a white collar defendant.
By working with other jurisdictions to adjust penalties, the totality of penalties upon conviction should be more in line with what was initially intended under State and Federal laws for crimes such as mail and wire fraud, securities fraud, insider trading, and money laundering.
One thing remains certain: white collar criminal charges require a strong defense from experienced defense attorneys. There is too much at stake to roll-the-dice with anything else.