A white collar crime is typically financially motivated and non violent. Originally limited to areas of business, they have expanded with the growth of technology to include a number of new, different forms of crime such as cybercrime. The Law Office of Peter Blair represents clients in a wide range of matters including:
- Bribery – The practice of “offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting any item of value to influence the actions of an official”. Whether the offering is monetary, a physical good, access to services, preferential treatment, an offer of support or influence, or any other thing considered to be of value, if it is offered with the intent to modify the official’s behavior in such a way as to benefit the person offering then it is considered bribery. In essence, it is the attempt to corrupt a government official through an appeal to their greed.
- Cybercrime – Many forms of white collar crime can be done via computer or over the internet. With the growth of connectivity, many companies and people place information about themselves and their dealings online, which can lead to breaches in security and the theft of personal information, corporate espionage, software piracy, hacking, financial theft, money laundering (via cryptocurrencies) or other forms of computer-based crime.
- Copyright Infringement – In short, the infringement of a copyright is the use of a copyrighted work without gaining the owner’s permission, particularly when done for personal gain. This can include plagiarism, ‘bootlegging’ (or the making and distribution of unauthorized copies), music piracy, software piracy, and other forms of infringement on the rights of the original copyright holder.
- Embezzlement – When an employee or other person is entrusted with assets by their rightful owner, and through deception or dishonesty withholds those assets with the intent of theft, then that person has committed embezzlement. Embezzlement is a specific form of theft which utilizes fraud in order to obfuscate the fact that a theft took place.
- Forgery – When someone creates falsified versions of documents issued by the government, such as identification papers, or considered legally binding, such as a business contract, or when someone prints US currency outside of the Federal Reserve, that person has committed forgery.
- Fraud – Fraud is the use of deliberate deception in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain. Many white collar crimes are specific forms of fraud. Generally, a person will defraud another person or a corporation or other body with the intent of gaining goods, monies, or services at significantly reduced cost, or of selling or trading goods for significantly more than they are worth. Other forms of fraud include obtaining documents or licenses under false pretenses. Specific types of fraud include Banking Fraud, Insurance Fraud, Mortgage Fraud, and Tax Fraud
- Identity Theft – One of the more infamous of white collar crimes in recent years, identity theft constitutes the use of another person’s personal identification information in order to conduct fraudulent business. The most common versions of this include setting up false credit cards in someone else’s name or gaining access to someone else’s bank accounts or credit information in order to make purchases, often online, while leaving someone else the responsibility of the bill. Other forms of identity theft include stealing social security numbers, birth certificates, or other identifying information, and using those stolen identities to mask criminal behavior.
- Insider Trading – When a person working for a company uses knowledge that is not available to the public to publicly trade stocks or other securities from that company at an advantage, that person is guilty of insider trading. The use of information that public investors do not have to make trades on the public market is considered unfair, and therefore fraudulent, as it allows those who have the information to make huge profits at the expense of public traders.
- Investment Scams – Commonly known as a Ponzi Scheme or pyramid scheme, this sort of white-collar crime usually involves a fraudulent investment opportunity designed to entice as many potential investors as possible by offering unusually high returns in the short term. Dividends are usually paid to the original investors through investment capital from the newer investors rather than from any returns on the investment, with the goal of amassing as much capital from investors as possible before the scheme collapses, then absconding with the money.
- Money Laundering – When a criminal enterprise produces money, that money is often considered ‘dirty’, and can be linked back to the criminal operation or used as evidence against it. The laundering of money, therefore, is the use of a legitimate business or other assets to disguise the source of such money, allowing it to be invested or used without arousing suspicion. There are many ways to go about this, with varying degrees of sophistication, from funneling ‘dirty’ money through a business, to converting those funds to another form of currency or asset, such as securities or cryptocurrency, that are more difficult to trace back to the original source.
- Perjury – A person who is under oath to tell the truth presents evidence to a court or other government official that is known to be false, and that information can determine the outcome of the proceedings. This can be as simple as lying about one’s age to gain tax benefits or some other benefit they would not have gotten otherwise, or as complex as presenting false information during a criminal trial. No matter the circumstances, perjury is considered a very serious crime, thought to lead to miscarriages of justice, and is usually dealt with quite strictly. It should be noted, however, that perjury cannot be made with a statement which requires an interpretation of fact: only with the misrepresentation of factual statements.
- Tax Evasion – If a person, corporation, or trust deceives or attempts to deceive the Internal Revenue Service when reporting their tax information, reducing their tax liability by declaring less income or profits than they made, or over stating the deductions they are allowed to make, then they have committed tax evasion.
Possible Penalties for a White Collar Crime
Common sentences for California white collar crimes include: restitution (payment of damages), fines, prison or jail sentences, probation, the loss of professional licenses, and more. In addition to legal punishment, a person convicted or even accused of a white collar crime will likely lose their good reputation in the business world and may have trouble pursuing future business ventures or employment.
Early Intervention is Key
Early Intervention and an independent investigation is vital for the success of a case. If we get involved before formal charges are filed, we can often locate favorable witnesses and evidence that may dissuade the prosecutor from bringing charges forward. Law enforcement is primarily interested in building a case against their suspect, not in finding evidence to exonerate him, this is why a separate private investigation is so critical.
Contact the Law Office of Peter Blair for a Free Consultation
If you have been charged with a white collar crime, the most important thing you can do is hire an attorney as soon as possible. Having a knowledgeable expert working on your case early on is a huge first step in preparing your defense, examining the evidence, and potentially getting charges reduced or dismissed. If this is your first time being charged with a major crime, an experienced attorney can help convince a judge to accept extenuating circumstances or show leniency when presented with your case.