Talking about white collar crime is not itself a crime. But a conversation might be closer to criminal activity than you might realize.
The crime of conspiracy does not require much, even though it can lead to serious criminal charges in state or federal court. The elements of a criminal conspiracy are:
- At least two people agree to commit a crime.
- One or more of the co-conspirators takes some action in furtherance of the scheme.
Note that the crime need not be completed or even attempted to trigger conspiracy charges. Any communication that appears to form an agreement to commit a crime, along with virtually any action, can be enough to prove a conspiracy. For example, say Alice and Betty exchange text messages discussing the possibility of robbing a grocery store. Later, Alice visits the store to look for cameras and other security measures. But neither Alice nor Betty take any other steps toward the robbery, which never takes place. Despite this, both Alice and Betty could be charged with a conspiracy crime, even though Betty did nothing except read and type a couple of text messages.
White collar charges too
The same is true for white collar crimes like embezzlement, bank fraud and wire fraud. You do not actually need to complete any of the elements of the underlying offense. If you are charged with conspiracy in federal court, you would face up to five years in prison and a huge fine. Though if the underlying crime is a state-level misdemeanor, the punishment cannot exceed the maximum available for the actual crime.
If you are charged with a conspiracy, you need to know your rights, the strength of the evidence, and your best options for defending yourself. Working with an experienced white-collar defense attorney can significantly even the odds in your favor.