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Individuals convicted of white collar crimes face longer prison sentences

Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice took steps to retroactively reduce the sentences of many nonviolent drug offenders. Reasons cited for the decision included a stance that mandatory drug sentencing guidelines were bias, discriminatory and overly punitive in nature.

We recently reported about how, similarly, some are calling upon the federal government to reduce sentencing guidelines related to so-called white collar crimes. However, a recent Reuters analysis shows that sentences for white collar crimes have actually increased more than 31 percent from 2009 through 2013.

Sentences seem to be especially harsh for individuals convicted of certain while collar crimes including insider trading and securities fraud. In recent years, federal prison sentences for insider trading charges have increased from an average of 13.1 months from 1999 through 2004 to 17.3 months from 2005 through 2013.

In the wake of the world financial crisis, prosecutors have been more aggressive in pursuing financial crimes cases and this is especially true in New York City where, over the last six years, 81 people have been convicted of insider trading. The sheer number of cases being tried in the city also helps explain the increasingly harsh prison sentences being doled out, including 11 and 12 year sentences, as many of the cases are decided by the same judges who attempt to discourage others from taking similar actions.

Additionally, sentencing guidelines for white collar crimes are often based upon the resulting amount of financial gain or loss. Some recent insider trading cases netted individuals subsequently convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences, personal gains in excess of $30 million.

Much like reductions in sentencing guidelines for nonviolent drug offenders, a case can be made for reductions in the sentencing guidelines related to white collar crimes. Does it really make sense to lock up individuals who pose no violent threat to society?
North Carolina residents who are facing criminal charges related to credit card fraud, identity theft, embezzlement or mortgage fraud may face harsh penalties. It's important, therefore, to retain a criminal defense attorney who will thoroughly review the facts of a case and aggressively defend an individual against prosecution.

Source: Reuters, " Insider traders in U.S. face longer prison terms, Reuters analysis shows," Nate Raymond, Sep. 2, 2014 

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