The days when a white collar criminal could serve their sentence, quietly redeem themselves and move on are long gone. Today, a white collar criminal conviction is likely to leave you with a lasting “personal digital criminal legacy” that won’t go away. Even worse, your family may suffer the same fate, strictly by association.
New research from the University of Portsmouth indicates that the online media coverage of white collar crimes is damaging the ability of those convicted to recover and reintegrate into society. Essentially, researchers found that many people convicted of white collar crimes were unable to resume productive lives because they were perpetually haunted by the news coverage of their crimes and trials. All it took for someone to learn about their past was a quick Google search.
Many of the people studied were marginalized as a result of the stigma. A few suffered long-term unemployment after their release. Most suffered a loss of earning power. Some felt forced into “gig work,” in an effort to avoid questions and scrutiny from bosses, co-workers and clients.
Overall, many of the people interviewed for the study felt that the coverage of their cases, now forever enshrined in digital media, was often unfair. News reports often distill a case down to its most sensational elements and seldom present the whole picture — but people reading those reports don’t realize that. As one researcher stated regarding the phenomenon, “The resulting widespread and enduring stigmatization for offenders, as well as for families and those wrongly accused, have significant implications for productive reintegration, criminal and social justice.”
If you’re accused of white collar criminal activity, you need to take immediate steps to protect your reputation and your future. An aggressive approach may be necessary to best protect your interests.