White Collar Crimes

Although closely related to theft charges (also referred to as “larceny” charges in North Carolina), white-collar crimes typically involve a component of organized financial theft by a person in a position of trust or power that sets them apart into their own general category. White-collar theft is financially motivated and usually nonviolent, although extortion and blackmail can be exceptions to this rule.

However, just because white-collar crime does not usually involve violence, the penalties for conviction can still be extremely steep. The federal government takes a special interest in white-collar crime because of the threat sophisticated white-collar crimes such as fraud and embezzlement pose to financial institutions, law enforcement and other government entities. Because of this, white-collar crimes are frequently charged at the federal level and carry with them significant penalties.

State-level charges for white-collar crimes in North Carolina include:

  • Embezzlement: Governed by N.C.G.S. 14-90 through 14-99. Embezzlement is one of the more complex types of white-collar crime with broad-reaching implications. As such it is usually prosecuted at the federal level. To learn more about embezzlement please see the Embezzlement/Tax Evasion page of our website.
  • Financial transaction card theft: This is governed by Article 19B of the North Carolina Criminal Code, also known as the Financial Transaction Card Crime Act. A person can be found guilty of credit or debit card theft if they take, obtain or withhold the card, without the rightful cardholder’s consent, with the intent to use, sell or transfer it. Credit/debit card theft is a Class I felony. Actually attempting to use the illegally-obtained credit or debit card is considered card fraud. If the combined values of fraudulent card activity in any six (6)-month period is $500 or less, credit/debit card fraud is a Class 2 misdemeanor. If the value exceeds $500, the fraud is a Class I felony.
  • Financial identity fraud: Identity theft is governed by Article 19C of the North Carolina Criminal Code. Knowingly obtaining, possessing, or using the identifying information of another person, be they alive or dead, with the intent to fraudulently represent that person for your own benefit is usually a Class G felony. However, if the victim is arrested, detained or convicted because of the fraud, or if the defrauder possesses identifying information for three (3) or more people, then identity fraud is a Class F felony. “Identifying information” for these purposes includes another person’s Social Security or tax identification number; driver’s license or passport numbers; financial account numbers; digital signatures; fingerprints; passwords; and a parent’s legal surname before marriage.
    • Trafficking in stolen identities is the sale, transfer or purchase of another person’s identifying information and is a Class E felony.
  • Forgery: Governed by Article 21 of the Criminal Code, forgery includes counterfeiting and forgery of notes, checks and other securities. Forgery is a Class I felony, unless the person possesses five or more counterfeit instruments with the intent to defraud, in which case it is a Class G felony.
  • Fraud: Covered by Article 20 of the North Carolina Criminal Code. Fraud includes more typical white-collar crimes such as fraudulent/deceptive advertising and filing a false lien or encumbrance. However, fraud also encompasses extortion and blackmail charges, which are the exception to the rule that white-collar crime does not involve the use or threat of force.
    • Extortion: Communicating a threat with the intention to wrongfully obtain something of value, whether it be a physical item or an intangible advantage or immunity, is a Class F felony.
    • Blackmail: A menacing or threatening writing that demands something of value in exchange for not following through on the threats Is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Tax Evasion: This is another type of white-collar crime that is typically prosecuted at the federal level. To learn more about charges for tax evasion please visit the Embezzlement/Tax Evasion page of our website.

Special federal oversight exists for matters of financial institution fraud, identity theft and money laundering. The penalties for these crimes at the federal level are generally even more serious than those charged at the state level.

If you have been charged with a white-collar crime in Charlotte, Lake Norman, Mooresville, Union, Gaston, Cabarrus, Lincoln, or surround areas, whether at the state or federal level, it is imperative that you speak with a criminal defense attorney experienced in defending individuals against those types of charges. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a criminal defense and civil litigation firm with offices in Uptown Charlotte and Mooresville North Carolina that is known for its aggressive approach to defending client rights against a variety of criminal charges at the state and federal level. Please contact us today for a consultation.