Criminal cases involving allegations of fraud, insider trading, embezzlement and employer theft tend to be extremely complex in nature. If found guilty, individuals who are sentenced in financial crimes cases often spend time in prison, are also forced to pay fines and restitution and are subject to restrictive and lengthy probation terms. In Utah, lawmakers have gone a huge step further and compiled an online registry of so-called white collar criminals that includes the names and photos of individuals who have been convicted of certain financial crimes.
While Utah is the first state to create and maintain such a registry, state legislatures are confident that other states, including potentially New York, will soon follow suit. However, the existence of these types of criminal registries has been sharply criticized by many who argue they equate to nothing more than public name-and-shame portals which serve to violate citizens’ “constitutional rights to due process, privacy and economic liberty.”
As the number of people in the U.S. who are included on criminal registries of some sort approaches the one million mark, The Wall Street Journal recently took a closer look at Utah’s White Collar Crime Offender Registry and revealed some troubling information.
For example, one case involved a 41-year-old man who was convicted of insurance fraud in 2008 for falsely claiming that his motorcycle had been stolen. As part of his sentence, the man spent 90 days in jail and was ordered to pay $16,493.38 in restitution to the insurance company.
However, despite fulfilling the terms of his sentence, his name and photo still appear on the registry. He “can appeal to come off the registry five years after he is finished serving his probation.” In two other cases, the name of a man who is deceased was included on the registry and the wrong conviction was tied to another man’s record.
The proliferation of crime registries is concerning and often results in the lives of the individuals whose names, photos and addresses are included in such registries being irreparably damaged. While it’s unclear whether New York will follow suit and institute its own white collar crime registry, it is clear that individuals who face criminal charges related to financial crimes also face harsh penalties and would therefore be wise to contact a criminal defense attorney.