White collar crimes are crimes carried out by professionals for selfish financial gains and do not involve the use of violence. California has stringent laws to deal with these kinds of crimes, and the penalties are equally harsh. Accusations for white-collar crimes in professional circles are on the rise, with some being genuine and others falsified for revenge. Regardless of why the allegations have been leveled against you, you cannot afford to sit back and watch as things unfold. A conviction on a white-collar crime can ultimately turn your life upside down and not for the best. Getting in touch with a criminal lawyer is the best way you can help yourself if you face these accusations. At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we are experienced and committed to helping you with your defense. Get in touch with us and allow us to protect your reputation and yourself from these penalties.
Types of White Collar Crimes
White-collar crime is an umbrella of various crimes that are committed majorly by professionals. They are calculated and well planned and are not easily detectable. Most of the people caught committing these kinds of offenses are individuals that have been at it for a long time. Below, we shall discuss the various crimes defined as white-collar, the possible penalties, and defenses.
Bribery offense happens when a person offers a valuable item to a public or government employee or an executive officer to affect their actions in your favor. The law prohibits bribery of executive officers according to PEN 67 and that of public personnel under PEN 67.5. Both the recipient and the person offering the bribe, if found, can be prosecuted for this offense. For a bribery offense to stick, the following various elements must be correct:
- An individual gives an offer to a public employee or executive officer
- The offer is made in cash or any valuable item
- The proposal was presented with the intent to corrupt
- The offer was aimed at affecting the decision of the recipient in the carrying out of their official duties.
PEN 68 also makes it a crime for a public officer or executive officer to ask for a bribe. For the offense to qualify as a crime, it must have similar elements to those of PEN 67.
Penalties for a Bribery Offense
Offenses of bribery are prosecuted as felonies. When you are found guilty of this felony, you are likely to face up to 4 years of state imprisonment. This is in addition to hefty fines the defendant must pay. Additionally, employees or officers found guilty of the same are required to vacate their offices, and in most cases banned from serving in the future.
Possible Legal Defenses
Accident Defense – this defense may be used when a person makes statements that may be misinterpreted as offers of bribe. A person can make an innocent statement without corruption or criminal intent. When this happens, one should not be found guilty of the bribery offense.
The mistake of fact – a person may, without knowledge, make statements to another person without realizing they are public employees or officers or even the gravity of the statement. When this happens, your lawyer can use the mistake of fact defense.
Entrapment defense – if during a sting operation to get individuals involved in bribery, an undercover operative may excessively push the buttons to cause a person to bribe or receive a bribe. When this happens, your lawyer can use entrapment as your defense.
The offense of blackmail has been on the increase in recent years. The laws governing extortion are found in PEN 518 to 527. Extortion is also referred to as blackmail. According to the law, the definition of this offense is loose. This makes the number of those that commit this crime without knowledge of it to rise. Because of this, when a person is accused of extortion, they must contact a criminal attorney to come up with their defense.
The law in California defines extortion as when an individual uses threats or force against another to obtain services, property, or money not belonging to them. A person can extort from a government employee or a private individual. Public officials can also be prosecuted for this crime. If they withhold a service towards a person with improper reasons, it becomes extortion.
In most cases, extortion allegations are charged as a felony, and the penalties very severe. When a person is found guilty of extortion, they face four-year state imprisonment in addition to a cash fine of $10,000. Because the crime involves the use of force, prosecutors are keen to prosecute these charges.
A person can be wrongly accused of extortion. Speaking with your lawyer is vital to formulate the various defense strategies available.
Receiving Stolen Property
When a person is accused of taking stolen goods or property, it violates PEN 496. This means that you have accepted goods belonging to another person without their consent. Because sometimes it may be difficult to prove that the person stole the products, therefore, focusing on the recipient or holder of the goods is more constructive.
According to PEN 496, it is illegal to buy, sell, receive, or conceal things that belong to another person when one is aware they are stolen. If you are found with goods or property that does not belong to you, a prosecutor can charge you with the actual stealing of the products as well as receiving them. However, a person cannot be punished twice for a particular object, according to PEN Section 654.
PEN 496 makes it clear that for a person to get charged with this offense, they must have been aware that the property or goods in their possession are stolen. This means that the prosecutor must prove that you were aware of the status of the properties. Additionally, you knowingly received and concealed them from the owner.
A person can also be accused to have taken another person’s property if they commit various theft crimes related to receiving stolen property. Some of these crimes are:
- Violating PEN Section 484. Petty theft of items valued at $400 or below
- Violating PEN section 487. Grand theft for items of a higher value than $400
- Violating PEN section 459. Burglary of commercial buildings in the second degree
- Violating PEN section 459. Burglary from an inhabited residence
- Violation of PEN 211. Robbing another person
- Violating PEN 487 or PEN 504. Embezzling property
When a person commits the violations mentioned above, they are likely to have stolen property, making it a crime.
This is another type of white-collar crime. If a person is accused of forgery, they violate PEN 470. Although the offense is relatively simple, the damage to the victim is very devastating. According to the statute, it is illegal for an individual to knowingly make, change, or use a written document to commit fraud. For a person to be guilty of forgery, they must have the mindset and intent of committing fraud by signing or altering a name for personal gain. For instance, a person may steal a check leaf and sign the owner’s name without their consent to obtain money from their account.
A person can also alter names or information is essential documents for selfish reasons. For instance, altering the contents of a will for selfish gain when the person dies. Until the object in question is passed on to the person committing the forgery, the crime is not complete. For instance, until the check is cashed and the person receives the cash, it remains attempted forgery.
For the charges to stick, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant took and altered the said documents, and the defendant had the intention to defraud the other person. A prosecutor shows forgery was done by obtaining the testimony of the victim and using expertise from a handwriting expert.
If you are accused of forgery, hiring a lawyer is essential as they will come up with various legal defenses as outlined below:
- Permission – the alleged victim permitted the suspect to sign on their behalf
- Failure to pass the item – for a forgery offense to be complete, there must be passing of the item to the suspect or another person. If this did not happen, then forgery did not take place
- No Intent – the prosecution must establish the intentions of the person in committing the crime.
Violation of PEN 470 is prosecuted as a wobbler offense. Various factors will help the prosecutor decide whether to pursue the suspect on felony or misdemeanor charges. If found guilty of a misdemeanor, the defendant will face one-year imprisonment as well as a cash fine of $1,000. If the allegations are for passing a check of more than $400, the suspect may be sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
If a person is found guilty of a felony, the penalties vary. Penalties are based on the amount lost and the criminal past of the defendant.
Allegations of identity theft are prosecuted under PEN 530.5. Because of the increased prevalence of this offense, the punishments for the violations are severe. The law defines identity theft as the possession and unauthorized use of information belonging to another person to acquire property, credit, or their medical records.
According to the law, a person found guilty of knowingly using another person’s information or identity for personal gain is guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor conviction will lead to a one-year prison sentence while a felony conviction can result in several years in jail.
It is important to note that if the identity was stolen to commit a crime, the person whose identity was stolen could not be accused of the crime.
The law understands that the stock market is volatile, with the value of stocks changing significantly. However, various practices are considered unfair in the market. These practices are known to give those in the know an unfair advantage over the rest of the public. These practices are known as insider trading and are a white-collar crime under the federal government. If you are convicted of insider trading, you are likely to face very long prison sentences.
The federal government makes sure there is careful monitoring of the stock market to establish possible fraud, unlawful practices, or manipulation of the market. Most of the people accused of this crime are corporate professionals or shareholders that may know of information to affect the stocks of a company.
Board members, employees, and other officials are not prohibited from trading or owning stocks. However, it becomes unlawful when there is a violation of fiduciary duty, and a person will sell or buy shares based on information not in the public domain. Receiving and offering tips from an individual with inside information regarding a stock is illegal. Both the recipient and the giver of the tip can be prosecuted for this offense.
For a defendant to be guilty of the offense, the prosecution must prove that they sold or bought the security. Additionally, at the point of purchase or sale, they had information that was not in the public domain. The information must also have been relevant or material concerning the stock. Information is said to be relevant or material if other investors must know before deciding to sell or buy a stock.
If you are charged with insider trading, your criminal defense lawyer is able to come up with various legal defenses to counter the allegations. According to the rules in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), an insider can make a trade owing to an existing contract or a plan outlining future trading. If this is the case, they are not guilty of insider trading as long as they can prove the existence of a preexisting contract.
Another defense strategy would be with the validity or importance of the information the insider had. If the information is not considered material or was in the public domain, the defendant is innocent of the offense. If another party overheard the defendant and the said party used that information to trade, the defendant is not guilty, but the person that used the information is guilty of insider trading.
If you get convicted of insider trading, you can be prosecuted for both criminal and civil penalties. The defendant can be sentenced to pay treble damages for the amount unlawfully gained due to the offense. Subsequently, the defendant may face extended jail time in federal prison, not exceeding 20 years. Also, the defendant will be expected to pay hefty fines and other damages as well.
When a person knowingly and intentionally misrepresents facts for personal gain or that of another, they are guilty of fraud. A person can commit fraud by falsifying statements or records to receive services or goods they would otherwise not have received. Fraud as a white-collar crime has various crimes or offenses under it. Some of these offenses are:
- Credit Card Fraud – this is a widespread offense in California. There are multiple ways a person can commit credit card fraud. Some offenses can be intricate involving various parties that produce, give out, and use forged cards using numbers obtained fraudulently online. In more straightforward cases, fraud, in this case, may involve using stolen credit cards to receive services and goods. The nature of most credit card transactions is that it can cross state lines. Due to this fact, a person facing these charges may be prosecuted in a federal court. A credit card fraud conviction is usually a felony that results in imprisonment in federal prison for several years.
- Insurance Fraud – many fraudsters target insurance companies with various schemes. A person that wants to defraud an insurance provider may file fraudulent claims hoping to receive compensation from the insurance company. Unfortunately for them, most insurance companies conduct investigations through their team of investigators before they pay a claim.
- Healthcare Fraud – fraud in health care is charged according to PEN 550. This crime happens when a person falsified information to deny or obtain benefits from and insurance provider. Insurance fraud, in this case, is based on false information causing the prosecutor to charge the defendant with violating PEN section 118. Charges on healthcare fraud are prosecuted as a misdemeanor and receive strict penalties.
- Have been known to falsify patient’s records to benefit from insurance companies. Many doctors have been accused of double billing, unnecessary prescriptions, or billing for services not provided to the patient.
- A person found guilty of this kind of offense risk state prison time, hefty fines, and possible loss of their professional licenses.
Tax fraud or evasion is a severe crime prosecuted at the federal level. This crime is committed when an individual knowingly avoids claiming income or property of particular value as they do their tax returns. A conviction of this crime is a felony and may result in lengthy jail time in the federal prison.
Find a Los Angeles White Collar Crime Attorney Near Me
Many professional crimes fall under the category of white-collar crimes. The laws on these crimes are stringent, resulting in the defendants spending long years in jail in addition to other penalties. A white-collar crime conviction can be embarrassing and devastating to a person. The good news is that one can be able to fight the allegations to avoid the penalties with an experienced criminal attorney. At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we are committed and passionate in ensuring that you get the best defense. Our attorneys have vast experience in white-collar crimes and will guide you in getting the most favorable outcomes. Call us today at 310-502-1314 and let us fight these allegations on your behalf.