Although the California Attorney General has mainly prosecuted mortgage fraud charges, law enforcement officers have also targeted other kinds of fraud, such as Medicare Fraud, Insurance Fraud, and Workers’ Compensation Fraud. The circumstances and details of each of these crimes are different, but every action has a common goal: deliberate trickery for illegal gain.

You can face prison time of up to five years or end up paying hefty fines of up to $150,000 if the judge finds you guilty of a white-collar crime. If you are a second time offender, the courts might add other penalties, and the only way to avoid this is to get an attorney to represent you. The Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm is a law firm that you can trust to help you with any type of white collar crime.    

What Are White Collar Crimes?

White-Collar crime is a non-violent crime executed, directly or indirectly, for monetary gain. That is especially true if the individual or individuals accused of unlawful activity are experts in government, business, or finance. These crimes also include acts that might have been done by small or big groups.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation provides a more straightforward definition of a white-collar crime like stealing, cheating, and lying. These crimes occur in business settings and are committed by someone who payroll clerks, accounts, managers of corporations, doctors, and bookkeepers. 

Quite often, white-collar crime is a federal crime, and it is the duty of the U.S. Attorney to prosecute wrongdoers. However, the scheme can also fall under the state government so you can either be charged by the federal government or the state government. Typically, these crimes fall under the SEC, FBI, and other federal agencies.

Types of White Collar Crimes

White-Collar crime can involve sophisticated methods to execute the offense. It can also include modern accounting practices, counterfeit currency, identity theft, and other schemes that require the use of inside information, expertise, or technology. Therefore, there is a wide variety of these crimes, including:

  1. Bribery

The criminal act of corruption includes giving or offering something valuable to another individual, often a public official. That conduct must be to:

  • Influence the bribed in his or her official capacity,
  • Induce the bribed to do an unlawful act or allow the illegal thing to occur, or
  • Induce him or her to omit or do something that is against the law or his or her official duties.

Bribery can also include the official demanding or soliciting something valuable in exchange for a legal or official act. There are different types of briber, such as:

  • Bribery of a public official – It aims to influence how an official works or misuse his or her power. The federal bribery statute forbids businesses, individuals, or others from the promising, offering, or giving anything valuable to a public officer.
  • Bribery of witnesses or jurors – That is giving something valuable to someone to change his or her sworn testimony. Jurors and witnesses can be face charges if they accept bribes.
  • Bribery of government programs – There is a federal bribery statute that applies to local and state governments and organizations.
  • Commercial bribery – This involves giving something valuable to an agent or employee to gain a benefit, and also demanding something useful from another person. There is no federal law that addresses commercial bribery.

The penalties for being found of a bribery offense include:

  • Jail time of 2 to 4 years
  • A fine of between $2,000 to $10,000
  • A fine equal to the bribe amount or $2,000 (the higher or the two)
  • Termination of employment for a public officer
  1. Burglary

The Penal Code 459 of the California statute lists the crime of burglary, and it occurs when an individual enters a commercial or residential room or building to commit a theft or felony once inside. You can be deemed to have committed burglary by merely entering the building, even if you don’t complete the actual crime.

Burglary law provides two types of burglary: first-degree and second-degree. The first-degree involves entering a residence while the second-degree include entering a business or store.

The penalties of first-degree burglary conviction include:

  • 2, 4, or 6 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Probation

For second-degree burglary:

  • Probation
  • 16, 24, or 36 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000

If your charges are a misdemeanor, you can be fined a maximum of $1,000 or serve a jail term of one year.

  1. Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud can be categorized into card present and card not present. Card present acts are those that involve taking the physical card or scheme to apply for a new card to get cash advances or purchase goods.

Card, not present frauds do not require the use of the physical card to gain financial gain. The accused records the card detail so he or she can use it online or through the phone to buy goods or gain monetary benefits.

The penalties for conviction include:

  • A maximum fine of $1,000 or jail time of one year, if the fraud involved less than $500
  • A punishment of up to $25,000 or a prison term of 15 years for a felony credit card crime.
  1. Embezzlement

Embezzlement is a kind of theft under California law. It is not similar to theft since the accused need to be entrusted or given access to the embezzled property by the owner.

Embezzlement is a wobbler crime that can be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor. If your scheme involves over $950, it becomes a felony. Otherwise, it is a misdemeanor crime.

The misdemeanor crime will attract these penalties:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • A maximum fine of $1,000
  • An infraction (fine of $250)

A felony conviction attracts:

  • 16, 24, or 36 months in prison
  • A maximum fine of $10,000
  1. Extortion

Extortion occurs if an individual force another party to make another person or himself or herself to part with something valuable through illegal threat. It can also happen if you make an official make another person do something illegal while claiming the official has the right to make that person do it.

Felony extortion conviction can make you suffer these consequences:

  • two, three, or four years in prison
  • A maximum fine of $10,000
  • Probation
  1. Forgery

The crime of forgery occurs if you knowingly do any of these things, to commit fraud:

  • Fake another person handwriting or seal
  • Sign another person name
  • Falsify or change any legal document (a deed or will)
  • Alter, fraudulent, or present a false paper as genuine to obtain property, finances, or money (promissory note or check)

Under Penal Code 473, forgery is charged as a misdemeanor offense unless it exceeds $950. The penalties include:

  • Jail time of one year
  • A maximum fine of $1,000

If you face a felony charge, you could face these penalties:

  • 16, 24 or 36 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  1. Healthcare Fraud

Healthcare fraud, medical insurance billing fraud, HMO fraud, health insurance fraud, Medi-Cal fraud, or Medicare fraud is a booming crime in California. The reason for this is its paid for by someone else other than the patient and the systems for making the payments are complicated. That presents many chances for engaging in fraudulent activities.

Most of the healthcare frauds involve government schemes like Medi-Cal. These crimes are prohibited by the Penal Code 550(a) are misdemeanor charges or felony charges. If you commit a healthcare fraud that involves less than $950, you might face a misdemeanor crime.

The penalties for a healthcare crime include:

  • A maximum of 6 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Both the jail time and fine

For a felony, you might end up facing these penalties:

  • A maximum fine of $50,000 or double the defrauded money
  • 2, 3 or 5 years in prison
  1. Identity Theft

Theft is accessing and using someone else’s personal information for fraudulent or illegal purposes. Identity theft comes in four types:

  • Obtaining and using the information without the owner’s consent for an unlawful purpose
  • Collecting and using the information without the owner’s permission with the intent to commit a fraud
  • Conveying, transferring, or selling the information without the owner’s permission to commit a fraud
  • Sending, moving, or selling the information without the owner’s authorization knowing that it will be used to determine a scam

The prosecutor needs to prove the following for you to face an identity theft crime:

  • The defendant used a third party information
  • The defendant used it unlawfully
  • The defendant intended to commit fraud

If you get convicted of a misdemeanor identity theft crime, you will face these penalties:

  • A maximum of one year in jail
  • A maximum fine of $1,000

In case of a felony:

  • Up to 3 years in prison
  • A maximum fine of $10,000
  • Both
  1. Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud theft occurs when a person deceives an insurance firm to collect funds. That is a crime in all the states in the USA, and it falls under the FBI. Insurance firms can also commit fraud by wrongfully denying a healthcare provider or a policyholder a payment that is due.

Common types of insurance fraud include:

  • Healthcare – When a business or person defrauds a health insurer.
  • Automobile claims – When someone fabricates or exaggerates a request made to his or her automobile insurer.
  • Life – That is when someone tries to get his or her life insurance payment by faking death.
  • Property – This fraud concerns business, home, or insurance policies that cover real property or personal property.

A misdemeanor crime that involves less than $950 attracts:

  • Probation
  • A jail term of 6 months
  • A fine of up to $1,000

A felony conviction leads to:

  • A maximum fine of $50,000 or double the amount gained
  • A prison term of 5 years

The penalties can get as higher as $250,000 under federal law.

  1. Internet Fraud

Internet fraud is also called cybercrime and refers to the use of the internet to commit a crime or fraud. There are dozens of California laws and federal laws that look at this crime. However, the most common types of cybercrime are:

  • Accessing a computer or data without authorization
  • Fraudulent schemes carried out via the internet or email
  • Phishing – using the internet or email to gain sensitive information like credit card information

If you get convicted with cybercrime, you could pay a fine or end up in prison for 20 years.

  1. Receiving Stolen Property

According to the California Penal Code 496, it is a crime to receive or buy a property if you know it was illegally acquired or stolen. You violate this code if:

  • You accept or buy a property that was obtained by extortion or theft (or you tried to purchase or receive)
  • You knew the property is not legit
  • You aid someone else to hide, sell, or withhold property or you sell, withhold, or conceal a property (or try to do that)

A property obtained through robbery or burglary is considered stolen. The outcome of being convicted with a property crime includes:

  • Serving a maximum of one year in jail

If the property is worth more than $950, you could end up:

  • In prison for 16 months, 2, or 3 years
  • Pay three times the value of the property
  1. Tax Fraud

Tax fraud occurs if a business or a person intentionally and willfully falsified information on his or her tax return to limit tax liability. The culprits are either budding business owners who in some instances, may not understand the whole taxing system. It involves cheating on your tax return to avoid paying the entire tax obligation. Some examples of tax fraud include claiming personal expenses, false deductions, not reporting income, and using a fake SSN.

Tax fraud is similar to tax evasion. However, it is not the same as tax avoidance, where a person avoids tax by using the present legal loopholes.

When you commit tax fraud, you could end up in jail and pay fines. It will depend on the charges you face. Tax evasion is considered a misdemeanor crime, and you could:

  • Pay a fine of between $10,000 to $20,000
  • Serve a jail time of 12 months

Other effects of being convicted for tax fraud include:

  • Losing your social security benefits
  • Losing your passport
  • Running your credit score
  1. Theft

Penal Code 484 defines theft as an unlawful or intentional act of taking property. It needs to be a permanent deprivation of the property from the owner. Theft can include:

  • Failing to return leased or rented property
  • Falsifying information to sell the property to a pawnbroker
  • Misappropriation of property
  • Unlawfully or selling a debit card

The theft comes in different forms, including:

  • Petty theft – That is the theft of property worth less than $950.
  • Shoplifting – That involves entering a store and stealing something worth less than $950.
  • Grand theft – Grand theft is stealing property worth more than $950.

The penalties for petty theft include:

  • Being locked for up to six months
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • or Both

The penalties for grand theft include:

  • A jail term of 16 months, 2 or 3 years

There are also civil penalties, which include:

  • Damages of between $50 to $500
  • Retail value of the stolen property

Common Defenses for White Collar Crimes

Like all other charges, there are a few defenses that your attorney can put forward if you face an administrative crime charge. The following are the common defenses for the offenses discussed above.

  • Weakness in the prosecution’s case – There is also a significant amount of financial documents and other evidence when it comes to white-collar crime. Luckily, an experienced lawyer can poke holes and spot errors in the prosecutor’s charges.
  • Lack of knowledge – If more than one party took part in the crime, your lawyer could argue that you did not know it was an illegal activity. You should show that you weren’t aware of the crime.
  • Lack of intent – Your lawyer can argue that you did not intend to commit the crime or the act which you did was not meant to benefit you in any way. If a prosecutor cannot prove you intended to commit the crime, then his or her charges might be dropped.
  • Entrapment – It occurs when an undercover officer or another person forces you or intimidates you to do an unlawful act. That is similar to coercion.
  • Coercion – You can argue that you were forced or coerced by multiple parties or another person to commit a crime or forge documents.
  • Victims or plaintiffs are guilty – Your lawyer can argue that the victim or plaintiff also engaged in the crime. That will come in handy if you might be forced to compensate the victim.

White-collar crimes are complex, and it can be hard to prove you are innocent. Thus, it is ideal to call a professional attorney who will stand by you and ensure you walk free.

What the Prosecutor Must Prove

The prosecutor needs to prove four elements to find you guilty of committing a white-collar crime.

  1. Intent – The prosecutor needs to show that you intentionally committed a wrongful or unlawful act.
  2. Disguise and concealment – The prosecutor needs to show that you concealed your criminal activity to prevent the arrest.
  3. Knowledge – The prosecutor must show that you knew that you had committed the crime.
  4. Reliance – The prosecutor must show that the victim relied on your fraudulent scheme or act.

What makes a white-collar crime unique is that you will become aware of your probable prosecution many days before you face charges. The officer will investigate for days, weeks, or even months, leaving you with much time to prepare a strong defense through the help of your criminal defense attorney.

FAQs About White Collar Crimes

Some of the commonly asked questions and their answers of white-collar crimes include:

Q: Who prosecutes a white-collar crime?

White-Collar crime can be a federal or state crime. Because it usually involves lengthy investigations that can entail crossing states and international boundaries, these cases fall under the federal government. 

Q: Can I get a job after being found guilty of white-collar crime?

Getting a job after any conviction can be a tall order. That is especially true of white-collar crimes since they involve dishonesty and fraud – the potential employer might worry about employing you with such a record.

Q: Should I get a lawyer if I intended to plead guilty?

You might not understand the consequences of pleading guilty of white-collar crime. Even if you committed the crime, the advice of a professional criminal defense attorney might reduce your sentence and provide you with the opportunity to continue with your life. 

Q: Will I be treated any different if I face a white-collar crime as opposed to another crime?

You are like any other suspect. Some people believe that white-collar crime suspects receive preferential treatment, such as plea bargaining, sentencing, and release.

Q: How can I defend my white-collar case?

You should get a lawyer to represent you if you face charges for committing a white-collar crime. The attorney will attack and undermine the case at its most vulnerable point, such as harm, fraud, or intent. The attorney will show that the prosecutor hasn’t proven the white-collar crime elements. 

Find a Orange County Criminal Attorney Near Me

Don’t wait until it is too late. The time to hire a criminal defense attorney is now. The Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm has experienced lawyers that will help you to argue your case. You can reach us at 714-740-7848. Call today!