Bank crimes, or bank robberies, typically involve stealing money from a bank institution. Due to security measures present at bank branches, most bank crimes involve some form of armed robbery (involving the use of a deadly weapon such as a gun). While bank crimes may seem like a far-fetched idea, they are still actually one of America’s more common types of crimes. Every year, banks lose millions of dollars due to bank crimes.
Bank crimes can also include other types of crime, such as embezzlement of money, “virtual” theft (stealing through computers or other electronics), and breaking and entering or burglary.
Bank crimes are common across the United States and are very serious. Many consumers realize they have been the victims of a bank crime only after they have lost a significant amount of money. Consumers are vulnerable to banking crimes, which may be committed by bank agents, financial advisers, or insurance agents. A person who is convicted of just one count of bank fraud can be sentenced to up to 30 years in federal prison.
What Types of Legal Penalties Result from Bank Crimes?
Since bank crimes are typically armed holdup robberies, they are often tried as felonies. Felony crimes typically involve serious legal consequences, such as high criminal fines, prison time greater than one year, and other punishments. Also, felony convictions often result in the loss of various privileges, such as the loss of the right to own a firearm. Felony charges can sometimes be very difficult to have cleared from one’s record later on in life.
Bank crimes can be a very serious crimes and typically a person guilty of a bank crime would face the following penalties:
- Incarceration: The jail or prison sentence depends on whether the crime was a misdemeanor or a felony charge and also whether if it was a state or federal offense
- Probation: A court can impose a probation sentence after the jail or prison time served
- Fines: The amount of fine depends on the nature and degree of the crime
- Restitution: A person convicted of a bank term must pay the money back to the victim, compensating them for the loss suffered
How Can I Better Understand Bank Crimes?
Bank crimes are criminal offenses where individuals knowingly carry out a scheme to defraud a financial institution. They are essentially using fraudulent means to obtain money, assets, or other property that is owned or in control of a bank or other financial institution. Such crimes may also be committed against patrons of a bank or other financial institution.
Bank crimes may be committed in a number of ways, including the following:
- Mail fraud. Mail fraud involves attempting to gain access to funds via fraudulent means by mail.
- Wire fraud. Wire fraud involves defrauding a financial institution via a wire, radio, or telephone communication.
- Making false statements on a loan application or other document. Criminals make false statements on loan applications or other documents to gain access to funds illegally.
- Falsifying documents. Criminals further misrepresent themselves through important documents meant to gain access to funds through a bank.
- Forging checks. Criminals use fake checks or illegally use another person’s checks to gain access to funds through a financial institution.
- Loan fraud. Loan fraud involves using misrepresentations and other illegal means to secure a loan that a person would not normally be able to receive.
- Counterfeiting bank documents. Counterfeited bank documents may include a wide variety of items, all intended to gain access to some form of finances from a bank.
- Tax fraud. Tax fraud is committed when an individual or entity knowingly violates the duty to file taxes legally.
Unlike other types of fraud, bank fraud is federally illegal, meaning that bank crimes will be investigated by federal agencies and prosecuted under federal criminal laws rather than state laws.
How are Bank Crimes Prevented?
Bank crimes are prevented in numerous ways. Across history, banks have used ever-changing methods to prevent bank robberies and other crimes.
In the 1920s, American banks added alarm systems and concrete, blast-proof vaults.
Modern banks use motion-sensing and high-resolution color security cameras, time-locked, heavy vault doors, silent alarms, exploding dye packs, fake money, and GPS tracking devices to combat bank crime. Some banks employ armed or unarmed security guards.
Today’s technology makes non-violent means of gaining access to bank vaults, even by the most experienced hackers and coders, nearly impossible. Modern vaults and safes are reinforced to the point that the number of explosives needed to harm the building would create unwanted attention and likely collapse the building.
Bank robbers may kidnap the bank manager, but many banks have removed the manager’s ability to open the vault.
Forensic identification techniques are also used to catch bank robbers. Should a bank robber fire a gun, police can trace the bullet to the exact firearm by using ballistic fingerprinting.
Some bank robberies are successful, although many bank robbers are found and arrested within a short time. The arrest rate for bank robbery is second only to that of murder.
Today, most organized crime organizations make the majority of their money through other means. These means may include extortion, drug trafficking, sex trafficking, gambling, prostitution, loan sharking, identify theft, or online scamming.
Bank robberies in the United States are prosecuted severely and harshly. Bank robberies involve long prison terms, which are often extended by the use of a loaded firearm, prior criminal convictions, and the absence of parole from the federal prison system. Bank robberies are an inherently violent crime.
Over half of bank robberies are committed by lone offenders, while pairs commit only one-fourth. Groups of three or more robbers commit even fewer bank robberies. Nearly ¾ bank robbers are armed. Only about 2% of all bank robberies result in death, and less than 1% of bank robberies in the United States involve any type of injury.
One-third of bank robbery attempts fail. The average haul for a successful bank robbery in the United States is roughly $46,000.
What Is Criminal Restitution?
Other types of white-collar bank crimes like embezzlement may involve similar penalties. These may also involve what is known as criminal restitution, which requires the defendant to pay the victim back for any losses caused by the bank crime.
Criminal restitution laws may vary by state. Alternatively, the bank may also choose to institute a civil claim against the defendant for other damages such as damage to private property and other legal concerns.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Bank Crime Charges?
Bank crime charges can involve very serious legal matters. You may need to hire a criminal defense lawyer for help if you have been involved with such charges. Your attorney can provide you with the legal assistance needed during such trials. Your lawyer will be able to represent you in court and can address any questions you may have during the process.
By using the link provided here, you can view LegalMatch’s entire database of criminal defense attorneys for no cost. LegalMatch’s database is broad and comprehensive. Our services are 100% confidential. By narrowing down your search, you can find an experienced attorney in your area for no cost.