I’m well known, and you’re not. Is it fair that, because of that single difference, I receive a harsher criminal sentence than you do after we are convicted of virtually the same crime?
Many readers of our blog might reasonably believe that a differing outcome linked to a person’s notoriety or the high-profile aspects of a case is grossly unfair and, in fact, not sanctioned under laws operative anywhere in the United States.
That’s a fair assessment, of course.
Yet it is also mistaken. In fact, and as noted in a recent Forbes article on the role that publicity plays in criminal sentencing outcomes, federal statutory law allows judges ample discretion to consider the public prominence of a figure when making case determinations.
Although it might not seem fair, the rationale is understandable and, to many people, defensible.
It goes like this: If I’m thinking of committing some white collar crime (mortgage fraud or identity theft, for example), a harsh sentence handed down for a similar offense in a case that has garnered considerable press scrutiny might serve well to deter me.
Conversely, if that case is attracting little media coverage, its likely deterrent effect will be limited, so there will logically be less reason for a court to impose a comparatively stringent outcome on a defendant.
Notoriety is of course far from the only thing that can challenge an individual in Texas or elsewhere across the country who is facing a white collar criminal probe. Although personal status can obviously be a key factor in such a case, authorities are generally aggressive in their investigation of any alleged white collar crime.
Moreover, they command impressive resources and are taking an increasingly hard stand against so-called financial crimes.
A proven criminal defense attorney can provide candid guidance and, when necessary, strong representation in any case alleging wrongful white collar-linked conduct.