Small business owners are often in their position due to a great deal of hard work and dedication. Once in this position, however, there are an array of things that can bring everything tumbling down. Unfortunately, white collar crime is one of these things. These types of crimes are committed for the sole purpose of financial gain, and most definitions have this occurring in a business setting. While white collar crime may seem like something that only takes place on Wall Street, a business owner charged with one of these crimes will learn quickly that companies of any size can be affected.
Common White Collar Crimes
While there are a host of white collar crimes that a business owner or their employees may be charged with, there are a few that make up a higher percentage of charges related to small businesses.
Cooking the Books: One of the most common forms of white collar crime in small businesses is known as “cooking the books.” This is nothing more than fraudulent record keeping. This is often done to make a company seem worth more financially than it actually is.
Theft: This form of white collar crime can happen on a variety of scales. Whether using investor money for non-business purposes or deceptively soliciting money from innocent individuals, the crime is considered serious.
Tax Evasion: Tax evasion is a white collar crime that often leads to federal charges. Lying on tax documents or falsifying information is one of the most common criminal acts perpetrated by small business owners.
Potential Positive Outcomes
White collar crimes are serious charges, and unfortunately for those facing these charges, they can lead to serious consequences. This is why no small business owner should take on these charges alone. As the website of a Riverside criminal defense attorney in California points out, there are a few positive outcomes related to these charges.
Exoneration: Being exonerated of any wrongdoing is the best potential outcome for anyone facing embezzlement, bribery, tax evasion or any other charge related to white collar crimes. It will be necessary in these instances to prove that nothing illegal occurred or that the small business owner was unaware of what was going on, but the chances of this occurring increase if the person hires an attorney.
Penalties: Though it’s not the most ideal outcome, a company may end up simply having to pay a penalty related to the charged crime. This could include reimbursing individuals who were allegedly affected or simply punitive payments made to the courts. Either way, those who only have to pay a penalty fare much better than those who end up in prison.
Weathering the Storm
One of the most difficult things to do when charged with a white collar crime is keeping the small business afloat. Luckily, there are a few ways to increase the likelihood that the company will survive these turbulent times.
- Cut back employee hours
- Perform layoffs if necessary
- Work hard to keep loyal customers with the company
White collar criminal charges should never be taken lightly. A conviction for any of the aforementioned crimes, or any other white collar crime for that matter, can land an individual in prison and result in the complete loss of their business. It’s important to remember that it’s not just the Bernie Madoffs of the world who go to prison for these crimes, and a small business owner who doesn’t realize this is doing themselves a real disservice.
About the Author: Bethany Gillis has been a small business owner and knows both the joys and struggles that go with ownership.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmrosenfeld/2903513401/