In today’s world, there are a number of crimes, which fall under the term “white collar crimes”. Overall, a white collar crime is an act which is not considered violent, yet has an element of deception and fraud. There is generally a paper trail resulting from a white collar crime, which will later be used by prosecutors as evidence.
White collar crimes may be prosecuted at the federal or state level, and a conviction can leave a person facing time in jail, steep fines and fees, and a criminal record, which is hard to leave behind. In short, a conviction for a white collar crime can truly place your entire future at risk. When your honesty and integrity are questioned, only the most experienced legal representation will do. Time is absolutely of the essence in white collar crime cases, and your future should not be left to chance. Call Los Angeles white collar crimes attorney Ambrosio E. Rodriguez today for a free consultation.
- 1 Types of White Collar Crimes
- 2 Fraud in California (California Penal Code §470-483.50)
- 3 Embezzlement in California (California Penal Code § 503)
- 4 Identity Theft in California (California Penal Code §530.5)
- 5 Forgery Conviction in California (California Penal Code §470(a))
- 6 Getting the Legal Help You Need
Types of White Collar Crimes
The most common types of white collar crimes include the following:
- Tax evasion
- Antitrust violations
- Intellectual property fraud
- Money laundering
- Bribery of an official
- Public corruption
- Bank fraud
- Cell phone fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Healthcare or insurance fraud
- Securities fraud
- Welfare fraud
- Stock market insider trading
- Theft of trade secrets
- Organized crime with no element of violence
- Theft of intellectual property, and
- Violations of environmental law
Fraud in California (California Penal Code §470-483.50)
When you use deception to secure unlawful or unfair gain, you could be charged under California Penal Code §470-483.5 with fraud. If you intended to secure money, services or goods at a substantially reduced price, you could be charged with defrauding another person or corporation. Fraud may also occur when those goods or services are sold for much more than they are actually worth.
If you obtain a license or document with false information, you could also be charged with fraud.
Fraud charges can encompass:
- Tax fraud
- Banking fraud
- Mail fraud
- Fraud against the elderly
- Insurance fraud
- Check fraud
- Mortgage fraud
Penalties for Fraud
Fraud in the state of California is considered a wobbler offense, therefore can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. This will be based on the facts of the case and whether you have a prior criminal history. If you are convicted of fraud, you could face serious penalties and consequences, including:
- Revocation or denial of state professional licenses.
- Undocumented immigrants who are convicted of fraud could be subject to detention and deportation.
- Significant time in jail
- Seizure of assets
- Hefty fines
Fraud offenses, like the offense of embezzlement, are considered crimes of moral turpitude, meaning a conviction can significantly affect your future as far as employment, your personal life, and even a place to live. The government may also seize any assets involved in the fraudulent activity such as money, real estate, jewelry, artwork, vehicles, etc.
Defenses Against Fraud Charges
Fraud can only be charged when it can be clearly shown there was intent to defraud; if defrauding another person or company was not your objective, your attorney will argue there was no intent on your part. The prosecution has the burden to prove you used fraud or deceit in order to take possession of the money or item.
If you did use fraud or deceit to obtain possession of the money, property or other items, but only intended to borrow it for a short time, your attorney may be able, again, to argue lack of intent.
Embezzlement in California (California Penal Code § 503)
California law enforcement will aggressively investigate allegations of white collar crime, and embezzlement is the most widespread type of white collar crime. It is defined as taking something entrusted to your care that was not yours to take, and which belonged to someone else. Under California Penal Code § 503, it must be shown that the property was entrusted to you by virtue of your having temporary possession of the property. For example, an employee, board member, principal of an organization, or trustee that managed the finances or property and stole funds.
Whether you are accused of taking a large sum of money or a relatively minor amount, it will be charged under this Penal Code. Many people admit they took the money or property, but claim they intended to return the money or property. If this is true in your case, you might still receive a conviction for the crime, especially without an attorney to argue your case.
Grand Theft & Embezzlement
You could be charged with grand theft under California law for embezzlement.
- Felony Grand Theft: If the item embezzled is worth more than $950, is a gun, or an automobile, it will likely be punished under misdemeanor or felony grand theft. Like many white collar crimes, embezzlement is a wobbler offense. The punishment for a misdemeanor grand theft embezzlement conviction could include:
- Three years in jail for felony grand theft
- Up to 1 year in jail for misdemeanor grand theft
- Fines up to $10,000
- Petty Theft: If the property or money embezzled is worth less than $950, and includes neither a firearm nor an automobile, you may be charged with petty theft embezzlement. The penalties for a petty theft embezzlement conviction could include:
- Up to six months in jail
- Fines up to $1000
Perhaps equally important is the fact that an embezzlement conviction can leave your professional and personal life in shambles. You could even find it difficult to obtain the type of employment you are trained for following such a conviction.
Identity Theft in California (California Penal Code §530.5)
Identity theft is addressed under California Penal Code §530.5. Identity theft reached staggering heights in 2014, with over 332,000 complaints of identity theft received by the FTC. Using the personal information of another with an objective of engaging in a fraudulent act constitutes identity theft.
- If you set up a credit card in another’s name, access bank accounts or information of another person related to their credit you have committed identity theft.
- If you then make purchases with this bank account or credit information in order to leave the other person with the bills, or use any personal identifying information such as a birth certificate or social security number of another, you have committed identity theft.
Elderly people in the state, as well as children, are those most often targeted in cases of identity theft, and the state of California in particular, reports a higher number of identity theft incidents than other states.
Penalties for Identity Theft
Like embezzlement, identity theft is also considered a wobbler, and can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If convicted of identity theft you face serious penalties and consequences, including:
- Felony identity theft
- Up to three years in prison
- Fines up to $10,000
- Misdemeanor conviction
- Up to a year in county jail
- Fines up to $1,000
Forgery Conviction in California (California Penal Code §470(a))
Should you create a fake rendering of a government-issued document or business document or print U.S. currency outside the Federal Reserve, you could be charged with forgery. Forgery charges fall under California Penal Code §470(a). Forgery can even involve writing another’s will without proper authorization or filing a false insurance claim.
In order to be convicted of forgery, however, three factors must be proved:
- Intent to defraud;
- Used a writing covered under forgery statutes;
- Falsely made or altered that writing.
This could include signing another person’s name to any legal document, knowingly passing a false financial document, or even writing a “hot” check (writing a check when you knew you did not have sufficient money in the bank to cover it).
Penalties for Forgery
Forgery is considered a wobbler – meaning it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
- Misdemeanor Forgery: If the item in question is valued under $950, forgery will be charged as a misdemeanor offense under California Penal Code §473. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor forgery conviction is:
- Up to a year in county jail
- Fines as large as $1,000
- Community service
- Felony Forgery: If the item is valued above $950, you may be charged with felony forgery. For a conviction of felony forgery, you could receive:
- Up to three years in prison
- Fines as large as $10,000
- Community service
If your charges are for the crime of writing bad checks, your attorney may be able to negotiate a bad check diversion program for you rather than jail time. Such programs generally include restitution, as well as taking a class on financial skills. Once the diversion program is successfully completed, your conviction for writing bad checks will be erased from your record. The range of penalties for forgery are broad, therefore an experienced white collar criminal attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your charges.
Getting the Legal Help You Need
If you have been charged with a white collar crime, you are likely feeling frightened, anxious and overwhelmed. Having a knowledgeable white collar crime attorney by your side from start to finish, can vastly reduce your stress levels, and can afford you the chance of obtaining a much lesser sentence, or possibly even a dismissal of your charges entirely.
The state of California has the burden of proof to show you had intent, while your criminal defense attorney will tailor your defense to your specific crime as well as the circumstances surrounding the crime. Call our office today to find out how we can assist you.