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White collar crime: Judge advocates for new sentencing guidelines

A prominent judge that is well versed in handing down sentences in white collar crimes is advocating that sentencing guidelines in such convictions change so as to exact a fair, realistic punishment. Presently, these sentences are primarily calculated based on the financial hit that these crimes yield.

This means that when the judge was made to sentence a man convicted of a white collar crime in which he was charged after overstating the results of the biotech company of which he was at the time present, the prosecution wanted him to spend 85 years behind bars for the estimated $50 million loss attributed to this man's crime.

The judge thought that 85 years was absurdly harsh, and opted instead to sentence the man for his crime to a far less severe sentence of 3.5 years in prison. The judge says of this decision and his overall aim to restructure these sentencing guidelines, "This blind emphasis on the loss calculation to the exclusion of everything else leads to bizarre results in case after case after case."

In many instances, these high-profile individuals that are charged with white collar crimes are under extreme financial pressure, or they simply make a mistake. They are not killing people or committing similar crimes that often yield similarly harsh sentences. Accordingly, this judge is advocating that guidelines be revised in such a manner that multiple factors could be considered rather than simply loss calculation.

While it remains to be seen if these sentencing guidelines will be revised, the penalties for a conviction of this nature remain extremely steep. Accordingly, if an individual in New Jersey is under investigation or has been charged in a white collar crime, they would do extremely well to seek the experience of a legal attorney.

Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight, "Rakoff says sentencing guidelines should be 'scrapped'," Nate Raymond, March 11, 2013

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