A common question in federal white collar cases is whether statutes of limitation apply, and if so, how long do prosecutors have to bring criminal charges against someone suspected of a white collar crime.
White collar crimes are non-violent criminal offenses that usually involve money and business. One important thing to remember about white collar crimes is that in general, the greater the financial loss, the stiffer the penalties can be.
Time limits for bringing federal charges against a citizen are implemented to ensure that the accused can mount a fair defense. The longer the government has to investigate the accusations, the harder it is for the accused to defend him or herself, which could lead to violating a person’s constitutional right to due process and the right to receive a fair trial.
Here is a breakdown of how statutes of limitation apply to federal white collar crime cases:
Most federal white collar crimes have a five-year statute of limitations, but there are many others that have longer time limits for prosecution, including:
- Securities fraud — If someone is suspected of deceptive, illegal practices in the stock or commodities markets, the statute of limitations ranges from two years to six years.
- Immigration — Prosecutors have 10 years to bring charges against people suspected of violating immigration laws. These include obtaining false citizenship documents, selling legal naturalization papers, producing false citizenship documents, forging or altering a passport, and other related offenses.
- Financial institution fraud — Mail fraud and wire fraud that are committed against financial institutions have a 10-year statute of limitations.
- Bank-related crimes — Bank bribery, embezzlement from a bank, bank fraud, FDIC fraud, loan and credit fraud, falsifying bank records, forging bank documents, RICO violations, and insurance fraud all have a 10-year statute of limitations.
- Tax fraud — When it comes to tax crimes, the statutes of limitations can be longer or shorter than the five-year standard, depending on the type of crime. These statutes of limitations can be three years or six years, but that time limit applies to when prosecutors must file a criminal complaint.
There are other types of federal crimes that have different time limits for prosecution, specifically, conspiracy against the government:
- For conspiracy cases, the statute of limitations begins when the last act of the conspiracy was committed. Conspiracy charges can be brought even if the accused did not actually commit a white collar crime. For example, if two people continued to try to hide their plot, the act of hiding the plan would be considered part of the conspiracy. The time limits for prosecution would not start until the conspiracy comes to light.
White collar crime is a serious matter that needs the attention of a serious criminal defense attorney. If you face allegations of a white collar crime, contact the law office of Sam Winston today.