White-collar crimes are illegal acts carried out by business people, entrepreneurs, public officials, and other professionals in California for financial benefits. White-collar crimes include several acts that are prohibited by both state and federal laws. These charges have the potential to tarnish your reputation and cast doubt on your moral integrity. It's naive to assume that white-collar offenses cannot result in serious punishment.
As a result, you need to treat all allegations seriously, whether they are state or federal. Leah Legal: Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer can assist you in putting up a defense to safeguard your image, rights, and freedom if you're fighting white-collar criminal accusations in Los Angeles.
Types of California White-collar Crimes
California considers certain acts white-collar offenses. They include:
Bribery Penal Code 68
In California, receiving or asking for a bribe as a government employee, executive officer, or ministerial officer is prohibited under Penal Code 68. A bribe is defined under this legislation as a promise to provide an advantage, anything of current or future significance. If the prosecution accuses you of bribery, they must demonstrate the following:
- You engaged in corrupt practices, and your professional or public responsibility was illegally affected.
- When you received, sought, or agreed to receive the bribe, you implied it could sway your official judgment, vote, decision, viewpoint, or engage in illegal behavior.
- You solicited, accepted, or demanded the bribe.
- You accepted the bribe while working for the state of California or serving in a ministerial or executive position.
Anyone who violates Penal Code 68 is guilty of a felony offense in California. You risk receiving a serious fine or a term of up to 4 years in prison. Also, the court is required to sentence you to formal probation rather than serving time in jail. If you are found guilty under this act, you risk losing your ability to possess guns. In California, those who have been convicted of felonies are not permitted to own or possess guns.
When the court finds you guilty of bribery, you can also be subject to unfavorable immigration repercussions. Bribery offenses might be considered aggravated felonies based on the specifics of your matter. As a result, if you're a non-citizen, you risk being deported or denied entry into the United States.
However, if you are granted probation rather than jail time and you complete it, your record will be expunged. Unfortunately, convictions for offenses that result in jail time cannot be expunged.
Perjury Penal Code 118
Perjury is defined under California's Penal Code 118 as knowingly giving false statements while being under oath. This involves:
- Providing misleading details about a vehicle accident during a hearing for personal injury cases.
- Providing misleading facts on a significant issue in signed affidavits.
- Giving false information during testimony in criminal procedures concerning a suspect's identity.
The following factors must be established against you by the prosecution to be found guilty of perjury:
- You made the statements while under oath or the threat of legal action for perjury.
- You knew that you were making false statements under oath.
- The facts are considered relevant to the issue at hand.
- You made a conscious decision to present the misleading information as facts.
If you make false statements, you could be subject to legal consequences under the perjury statute, such as:
- On a signed document.
- During a deposition.
- When applying for a DL 44 driving license at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- When giving a court testimony.
- On signed affidavits.
Any violation of PC 118 is a felony offense in the state of California. If the court finds you guilty under this provision, you might be subject to a fine of up to $10,000 or a term of up to four years in state prison.
If you're found guilty of perjury by the court, you could also be subject to unfavorable immigration implications. Perjury is a crime of moral turpitude in California. So if you're a non-citizen, you risk being deported or declared inadmissible. Your right to possess firearms could be revoked.
In accordance with this law, you are only eligible for a record expungement when the court grants you probation. You cannot get a conviction expunged if you are sentenced to prison. Nonetheless, you can refute perjury accusations in court by presenting the following defenses:
- Lack of proof.
- False accusations.
- No intent to commit perjury.
Forgery Penal Code 470
Forgery in California includes several charges. Some examples of forgery include making up claims on insurance policies, making up fake wills, and cashing counterfeit checks. As per Penal Code 470, the concept underlying all forgery charges includes the following factors:
- You falsified or altered the writing.
- Using written material that is subject to forgery laws.
- Your goal was to defraud someone else.
Forgery laws apply to three categories of writing. They consist of:
- Writing a fake check, sending, speaking, drawing, or creating a bank check or draft knowing there are insufficient funds available in your account to pay it.
- Deliberately presenting a falsified financial document, such as a fake lottery ticket, check, legal document, fake currency, or fake driving license.
- Signing a check or any other legal document with someone else's name or even a false name.
Forgery is classified as a wobbler offense in California. Nevertheless, with the passage of Proposition 47, CPC 473 now classifies forgery as a misdemeanor offense unless the forged documentation is valued at or over $950.
You might get a sentence of 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in jail when the court finds you guilty of forgery as a felony. You could spend up to a year in jail if the court finds you guilty of misdemeanor forgery.
The facts of the case could additionally warrant maximum fines of $1,000 as part of the punishment. Other forgery accusations may subject you to restitution, community service, and $10,000 in fines.
You could lose your right to bear arms if you are found guilty under Penal Code 470. In California, people charged with felonies are not permitted to own guns. As forging is a crime involving moral turpitude, you can also find difficulty obtaining immigration. If you aren't a citizen of the United States, you risk being deported or barred from entering.
The following are some of the defenses that a skilled attorney could put forward to assist you to fight the forgery allegations:
- You were pressured into confessing by the police.
- You have been wrongfully accused.
- You didn't mean to commit fraud.
Penal Code 518 Extortion
Under California Penal Code, it is illegal to threaten or coerce a public servant into performing an official duty. When someone forces you to accept their money or possessions, that is considered extortion. If you are accused of extortion, the prosecution must establish the following factors in court:
- You were able to coerce the victim into giving you the property or cash that you wanted by threatening them.
- You used coercion or threats to get the alleged victim to consent to give you property or money.
- You acquired assets or cash from the alleged victim.
- You threatened to hurt the individual or reveal secret information about them.
Any individual who violates California Penal Code 518 is guilty of a felony. If the judge finds you guilty of violating this law, you could spend up to 4 years in prison and pay a fine of $10,000. Extortion is a moral turpitude offense in California.
If you're a non-citizen, you could be barred from entering or deported. In California, you can also lose the right to bear arms since felons are not allowed to acquire or possess guns after a conviction. Nonetheless, you can refute extortion allegations by raising the following defenses:
- You were legally entitled to make a threat.
- Threats or force were not used to get something of value.
- No one was coerced into giving their approval through the use of violence or threats.
- You didn't threaten or use coercion to obtain something valuable.
Penal Code 503 Embezzlement
Penal Code 503 prohibits taking someone else's property that has been entrusted to you to deny that person the ability to use it. If you are accused of embezzlement, the prosecution needs to establish the following:
- You illegally appropriated someone else's assets for your own gain.
- The property was given to you by the owner.
- The owner gave you access to the property since they entrusted you, but you violated their trust by taking the property away from them.
A conviction for embezzlement carries a penalty of either monetary fines, incarceration, or both. If the offender returns or gives back the embezzled property, the penalties could be reduced. This could depend on the degree of theft and the degree of harm caused.
If you infringe Penal Code 503, you could be charged with grand theft or petty theft. The conviction you receive will depend on the total value or nature of the stolen or embezzled item. Theft of a motor vehicle, a firearm, or any item with a value of or above $950 will result in grand theft accusations.
A grand theft violation under this provision is considered a wobbler crime. Therefore, you can be accused of a felony or a misdemeanor. If you are found guilty of misdemeanor grand theft, the sentence could be not more than a year behind bars. If you are found guilty of a felony grand theft, you could face up to 3 years behind bars.
The court could find you guilty of misdemeanor petty theft if you embezzle or swindle property worth not more than $950. In this situation, you will be sentenced to 6 months behind bars.
If you are charged with embezzlement, you could use the following arguments to counter the charges:
- You committed the crime while suffering from a mental illness.
- You had no intention of committing embezzlement.
- Police entrapment.
- You perpetrated the crime while under duress.
- Lack of sufficient evidence.
Fraud occurs when someone intentionally causes injury or loss to another or takes something that does not rightfully belong to them. The motives behind fraud include the desire to seek financial gain or avoid criminal responsibility. Common types of California fraud include bank fraud, mail fraud, security exchange fraud, and internet fraud.
This type of fraud occurs when an individual devises a plan with the specific intent to defraud financial institutions. Bank fraud can be perpetrated through counterfeiting bank statements, forging checks, and loan fraud, among others. Bank fraud is considered a federal crime. If you are found guilty of bank fraud, the justice system can impose a hefty cash fine not exceeding $1,000,000 and a lengthy jail term not exceeding 30 years.
A bank fraud allegation can also damage your reputation and credibility. This would make it difficult for you to make a living and obtain work in the future. Federal offenses, such as bank fraud, are prosecuted aggressively and to the full extent of the law.
California law considers mail fraud a federal crime. The reason for this is that the U.S. federal government is in charge of managing the mail system. You could face charges if you devise fraudulent schemes to deceive or defraud another individual via US mail. Fraudulent use of the mail system is a federal offense under the provisions of Title 18 USC 1341.
California imposes harsh punishments for mail fraud. If the court finds that you are guilty of this crime, you could receive a 20-year prison sentence. You could also be subject to a hefty cash fine not exceeding $1,000,000.
Internet fraud, often known as cybercrime, is a significant source of police officers and criminal activity nationwide. Among the 300,000 reported cases in the United States each year, California accounts for almost 10% of all internet cybercrimes. Internet fraud is prosecuted under California PC 502.
Convictions for internet fraud often carry harsh penalties. You could be found guilty of internet fraud by either the state or federal government, depending on where the victim lives and how and where you perpetrated the crime.
Any individual who engages in internet fraud could be found guilty of a wobbler crime as per the provisions of PC 502. You could be accused of a felony or a misdemeanor. If the judge finds you guilty of a misdemeanor, you would spend up to $1,000 in fines or a year behind bars. If you are convicted of a felony, you would face up to 10 years in prison depending on certain conditions.
Security Exchange Fraud
This type of fraud occurs when an individual is compelled to purchase or sell a security based on fraudulent information. Investor relies on experts like brokers and investment advisers to help them manage and facilitate their investments.
Investment brokers and advisers are required to handle their clients with the utmost loyalty, good faith, and reasonable care. This fiduciary obligation is broken when a broker or investment adviser commits fraud. This often manifests as negligence, misrepresentation, or omission.
California security exchange fraud is governed by both federal and state regulations. The Securities Act of 1933 and 1934 respectively are the two federal statutes that address securities fraud. The 1933 Act sets forth rules for securities registration and disclosure requirements. Securities sales and offers are governed by the 1934 Act.
The prosecution should demonstrate the following to establish federal security fraud:
- Economic loss and damage.
- A link between the purchase and sale of securities.
- Falsification or omission of important information.
- Loss causation, which involves the relationship between the misrepresentation or omission and the loss incurred.
- The perpetrator engaged willfully, recklessly, or deliberately.
- Reliance on false information or omissions.
If you are found guilty of violating the federal securities fraud statutes, you could be sentenced to 20 years behind bars. Any person who commits security exchange fraud is guilty of a wobbler crime under California law. You could be accused of a felony or a misdemeanor.
The following consequences could be imposed on anyone who sells securities illegally or purposefully does so without complying with qualification standards:
- Jail time of either 16 months, 2, or 3 years behind bars.
- A hefty cash fine not exceeding $1,000,000.
Any individual who participates in insider trading, intentionally undertakes deceptive security transactions, or manipulates the market could be subject to the following punishments:
- A county jail term of either 2, 3, or 5 years.
- Fines not exceeding $10,000,000.
Legal Defenses For White Collar Crimes
Since the courts allow accused individuals to legally represent themselves, you would be able to present your arguments in court. The process comes after the prosecution makes its case, and it usually follows the charges that were made. The prosecution's case could be reasonably disputed as a result, so you should give yourself plenty of time to formulate your legal defenses. In exchange, the jury and the judge in charge of the hearing could be convinced to reconsider their decision and support you.
Your criminal lawyer should evaluate the facts of the case and identify any loopholes in the prosecution's case before putting together a comprehensive defense. The attorney can also assist in introducing facts that had been missed to present a different scenario. Once you've settled on a strategy, your defenses would be polished and ready for presentation.
Below are some of the commonly used legal defenses:
You Didn't Intend to Commit Fraud
The majority of white-collar offenses involve deception, which leads to fraud. Therefore, the primary objective of your arguments would be to refute the prosecutor's assertions that you intended to defraud another person. You should be aware that the prosecution's case argument would depend on the specifics of the case. Because of this, your argument should emphasize the key points and refute them to properly articulate your defense.
For instance, withholding details from the alleged victim or providing false details for personal gain are examples of fraud. However, you can mount a strong argument if you genuinely believe the details you presented were accurate. It's also a good idea to back up your defense with facts because it makes you seem more credible. Your defense lawyer will advise you on how to proceed with the presentations and preparations.
You Had No Intention of Engaging in Corruption
You might not have intended to act corruptly when you committed certain actions. Depending on the facts of the case, this argument could be beneficial when faced with bribery allegations. For instance, if you believe that someone offered you benefits or money as a kind gesture, you could use this to your advantage.
The same defense can be used for someone who paid a public servant under the impression that it was a mandatory service fee. For instance, you could be able to use the argument if the official quoted you an excessive service cost. You could claim that you had no idea the extra money was considered a bribe. However, you need to make certain that your presentation portrays your actual lack of expertise about bribes.
You Were Falsely Accused
Facing false allegations is also common in white-collar jobs for a variety of reasons. For instance, the real mastermind could strive to cover up their tracks by accusing you. Alternately, if you've had prior run-ins with the law, they can try to cast doubt on your field of work.
Therefore, if you can demonstrate that you were not involved in the criminal claims, facing false allegations could constitute a valid defense. When you refute the claims, the court would order you to show who was responsible for the offense.
As a result, your criminal defense attorney can assist by gathering information and polishing the facts to submit in the courtroom. Alternatively, you could try to come up with an alibi to take yourself out of the crime-scene picture and further demonstrate your innocence.
Find a White Collar Crime Defense Lawyer Near Me
If you're being investigated for a white-collar offense, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. White-collar offenses could be subject to both state and federal legislation, each of which carries several punishments, depending on the specifics of your allegations. A professional attorney can help you navigate any criminal culpability and can advise you on your options for defense. We at Leah Legal: Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer in Los Angeles can assist you with your case. Call us at 424-600-7164 to speak with one of our lawyers right away.