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How are White-Collar Crimes Classified in GA?

Bribery, fraud, embezzlement, and other white-collar crimes are usually felonies.

Georgia law classifies most criminal cases according to the severity of the actus reus (criminal act). For example, simple assault is usually a misdemeanor, and aggravated assault is usually a felony. White-collar crimes usually follow that same pattern. The amount of money usually determines the crime’s classification.

Sometimes, the mens rea (criminal intent) makes the difference. If Bill stole a valuable ring from a nursing home resident’s room, he would probably be charged with theft. If Bill tricked a nursing home resident into signing a will, he would probably be charged with fraud, which is usually theft plus a betrayal of trust, even if the monetary amounts were identical.

Crimes are not major or minor in Georgia. All crimes have serious direct and collateral consequences, as outlined below. So, regardless of the charges, a defendant needs a good Norcross criminal defense lawyer. Otherwise, the direct and collateral consequences, which are already horrible, might be much worse.

Misdemeanors

Padding an expense account and sneaking money from the cash register are the most common pure misdemeanor white-collar crimes. Other more serious crimes, like deliberate medical coding errors, are misdemeanors if authorities file charges quickly enough. Otherwise, they become felonies.

In many states, the direct consequences of a misdemeanor arrest are relatively light. Georgia is different. Fines, probation and jail time are all possible in Georgia. Additionally, pretrial diversion and other such programs are often unavailable in the Peach State, usually for political reasons. Since Georgia is a red state, the law emphasizes personal responsibility.

The collateral consequences of a misdemeanor white-collar crime conviction are drastic. To most people, criminal offenders are homogeneous. An indecent exposure conviction is just as bad as a sexual battery conviction, and a misdemeanor embezzlement conviction is just as bad as a felony.

Additionally, misdemeanor white-collar crimes, like fraud and bribery, are CIMTs (crimes involving moral turpitude). These offenses have severe immigration consequences. In the short term, they could lead to deportation proceedings. In the long term, they adversely affect status adjustment applications.

These convictions affect civil and family law cases as well. People with CIMT convictions appear unreliable and untrustworthy. Moreover, they may be legally incompetent to testify in some cases.

Felonies

White-collar crimes are almost always felonies. The same collateral consequences discussed above apply to felony convictions. Additionally, the direct consequences are much worse. It may be hard to believe, but they usually outweigh the collateral consequences.

As mentioned, probation is almost always required in Georgia. So, if an economic or other opportunity arises in another state or even in another country, the defendant may be unable to take advantage of it.

Additionally, white-collar crimes have high incarceration rates. Once again, politics comes into play. If a rich and dastardly white guy gets “a slap on the wrist,” many people howl.

Most jails and prisons don’t segregate inmates based on their offenses. Violent criminals live alongside white-collar criminals. Plus, for many white-collar crime offenders, the mere loss of liberty is a very tough pill to swallow.

Connect With a Gwinnett County Criminal Defense Attorney

White-collar convictions have severe direct and collateral consequences. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Norcross, contact Zimmerman & Associates, Attorneys at Law. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.