Is a White Collar Crime Criminal or Civil?
If you lie to your business partners or customers, steal from your employer, or falsify your company’s financial records, you could face consequences in both civil and criminal court.
In some situations, threatening to call the police and having someone arrested is a credible threat, but in others, it makes more sense to threaten to sue them. Not every action that violates a law or infringes on another person’s rights is a crime punishable by jail, prison, or probation. In some instances, civil courts and criminal courts can hear cases related to the same incident. The most famous example of this is the O.J. Simpson case. In 1995 O.J. Simpson was charged with, and later acquitted of the murder of his ex-wife and an acquaintance. Despite his acquittal in criminal court, the following year the victims’ families sued Simpson in civil court, and the court found him liable (legally responsible) for the victims’ deaths. Situations like this can happen not only in the case of violent crimes, but also financial crimes like fraud and embezzlement. The Gwinnett County, Georgia white collar crimes defense lawyers at Zimmerman & Associates can help you understand the possible consequences of your charges in criminal court and elsewhere.
The Differences Between Civil and Criminal Court
In a legal dispute in civil court, one person or company (the plaintiff) files a lawsuit against another person or company (the defendant) and claims that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff to lose money. The amount of money the plaintiff lost due to the defendant’s actions or inaction is usually the amount that they claim as damages in the lawsuit. Some civil trials have juries, but sometimes the judge can decide the outcome. If a civil court rules against you, you cannot lose your liberty by being sentenced to prison, jail, or probation; the worst that can happen is that the court orders you to pay money or does not award you the money you are requesting.
In criminal court, the state or federal government (the prosecution) is claiming that a person (the defendant) committed a criminal offense. Depending on the crime you can be to jail or prison time or be placed on probation. If you choose to fight your charges and take your case to trial, a jury decides whether you are guilty. You also have the right to have your case decided by a judge. The evidence required to find a person guilty in a criminal trial is much stronger than the evidence required for a ruling in a civil trial. This is known as the burden of proof. The burden of proof in a criminal trial is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and the burden of proof in a civil trial is “by a preponderance of the evidence.”
When Can You Go to Prison for a Financial Crime?
Some accusations of business partners or employees stealing from their companies take the form of litigation in civil courts. Meanwhile, fraud, embezzlement, insider trading, and money laundering are crimes, and if the amount of money you caused the victims to lose is large enough, you can receive a prison sentence. The court might also order you to pay restitution to the victims.
Contact Zimmerman & Associates About Financial Crimes Defense
An Atlanta criminal defense lawyer can help you defend yourself against accusations of financial crimes such as embezzlement and fraud. Contact Zimmerman & Associates in Norcross, Georgia to set up a free consultation.