White collar crimes involve a wide range of offenses. The law considers the crimes non-violent, financially motivated, and committed mainly by professionals and government officials. These include insider trading, tax evasion, embezzlement, pyramid scheme, bribery, money laundering, fraud, among others. Penalties for these crimes are serious, including hefty fines and lengthy prison or jail terms.

If you face charges for any white collar crime, consider hiring a competent attorney due to the complex nature of the justice system. At Koenig Law Office, our lawyers have defended countless clients facing white collar crimes. Therefore, if you face a white collar crime allegation in Bakersfield, CA, don't hesitate to contact us. We will offer the best legal services to ensure the best outcomes for your case.

Understanding White Collar Crimes In California

White collar crime means nonviolent crime, which involves fraud or dishonesty in commercial matters. The crimes are financial rather than physical crimes. The details of the crimes vary depending on the nature and the circumstances surrounding the case. Due to advancements in technology, white collar crimes committed by an individual may affect more than millions of victims. The crimes are termed 'white collar' since government employees or professionals primarily perform them.

The punishment of the crimes varies depending on the defendant's criminal records and the crime's degree of sophistication. Most white collar crimes are misdemeanors, while others are felony crimes charged under either state or federal government. White collar crime encompasses a wide range of crimes. The most common offenses classified under white collar crimes include:

  1. Embezzlement, California Penal Code 503

California Penal Code 503 outlines embezzlement laws. The crime involves the behavior of misappropriating property owned by another person, although you have been legally entrusted to it. The court may charge you with embezzlement even when you had no aim to steal or keep the property.

Penalties For Embezzlement

The law punishes the offense of embezzlement as a pretty or grand theft, based on the kind of the alleged property. If the property's value in question is above $950, the crime qualifies as grand theft. Again, the crime is a wobbler. So, if charged as a misdemeanor, it leads to a one-year jail sentence. If charged as a felony, you could face a three-year prison sentence. If the alleged property is worth $950 or less, the crime becomes a misdemeanor leading to a six-month prison sentence.

Possible defenses

If you face an embezzlement charge, you need to work closely with your defense attorney. With the attorney, you may fight your charges using the common defenses for embezzlement like lack of intent, false accusations, believing you legally possessed the property.

  1. Money Laundering, Penal Code 186.10

The crime involves unlawfully taking obtained money and transforming them into what looks like legitimate assets or money. Then the holder cleans the dirty money to avoid raising suspicion of financial institutions. To face conviction for the crime, the prosecution team must prove you had the intent to perform the crime.

Penalties For Money Laundering

Under Penal Code 186.10 and HSC 11370.9, the crime is a wobbler. When you commit the crime, you will face charges as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on your criminal history and the case's situation. Misdemeanor money laundering may lead to a fine of not less than $1,000 and a jail term for not exceeding a year.

A PC 186.10 felony is punishable by a prison time not exceeding three years under a realignment program or paying a fine worth twice the total amount of money laundering. Felony penalties for HS 11370.9  include a fine worth $250,000 or twice the total amount of money laundered( whichever is high) or a jail term of up to four years in prison.

Possible Legal Defenses

Money laundering triggers severe consequences. Thus it's essential to hire a competent criminal defense attorney to fight the charges. With the attorney's help, you may use legal defenses like you had no intent to commit the crime or committed the crime under duress.

  1. Insider Trading

Insider trading involves trading in a public company's stock by someone else without access to non-public information about the stock. To face insider trading conviction, the prosecution team must prove you sold or bought stock or security; you had confidential information with the information, not public.

Penalties For Insider Trading

The potential penalties for insider trading include civil sanctions and criminal prosecution. Again, the court could order you to pay a fine three times the profit you earned from the illegal trade. The court may fine you between five million and twenty-five million and serve time in jail for not less than 20 years. The potential defense for the crime involves a lack of intent, or you never acted willfully.

  1. Bribery, Penal Code 186.11 PC

Bribery occurs when you offer a valuable item to someone aiming to influence their actions or decision. In California, both the recipient and the person giving the bribe face charges for bribery offenses. Most bribes aim to alter or change decisions that end up causing political or public corruption. Bribes may be either in the form of money, gifts, or promises.

To face conviction for a bribery charge, the prosecution team should show you intended to receive or give the bribe. You may face conviction even when the recipient did not agree to accept the item of value. Also, the prosecution team should prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the elements of the offense. The elements of bribery include:

Value: The prosecution team must prove you received or gave something of value like money to change a decision.

An official matter: In California, as long as you gave or received a bribe aiming to change an official decision, the court may charge you with a bribery case. Thus, it is essential to seek legal representation from a competent attorney if you face a bribery charge.

Corrupt Intent: If you had no wrongful design in your behavior, you wouldn't face conviction for the crime. The prosecution team should provide witnesses or evidence to prove you had corrupt intent.

Penalties for Bribery

The law considers bribery a federal offense, especially when the decision changed by the bribe had an impact on the public. So, if you face a bribery conviction, you face any of the following penalties:

In case the bribery was not received, you may face a sentence to a fine not exceeding $10,000.

If the case were a misdemeanor bribery crime, you would remain behind bars for a period ranging from two to four years.

When the bribe was received, you will pay $2,000 or a fee equal to the bribe amount. If the bribe involves large amounts, you will pay at least $10,000 or an amount equal to the received bribe.

In case you're a public officer, the law will require you to forfeit your office.

Legal Defenses for a Bribery Charge

The penalties for bribery charges are severe. But, receiving a charge doesn't mean you will face conviction. With the help of a competent attorney, you may fight the charges. You may argue:

  • You acted because of voluntary intoxication.
  • It was a police entrapment.
  • You were falsely accused.
  • You had no intent to commit bribery.
  1. Fraud Crimes

A fraud crime occurs when you receive undeserved or unfair benefits that could cause another person loss or harm. This means receiving profits from the loss and pain of other people through illegal means. The crime is committed for financial benefits or to evade criminal culpability.

Types of Fraud Crimes

In California, there are different forms of fraud offenses. Each type of fraud has its criteria and possible penalties. The following are the common types of fraud crimes in California:

  • Real Estate and Mortgage: The fraud occurs in connection with a mortgage on real estate, rental property, deeds to real estate, foreclosure, or certain forms of property flipping.

  • Insurance Fraud: Takes place when you wrongfully receive payments or benefits for which you aren't eligible. For instance, the common types of insurance fraud include; vehicle insurance fraud, medical insurance fraud, unemployment insurance fraud, workers compensation fraud, healthcare insurance fraud, and welfare fraud.

  • Forgery and Identity Fraud: In California, forgery is considered a fraudulent crime. It is illegal to counterfeit, possesses fraudulent public seals, or forge. Usually, a public seal may authenticate government documents like a birth certificate or driver's license. Again, it's illegal to forge a government seal of a law enforcement department.

  • Fraudulent Actions Against the Elders: The crime involves fraud actions against people aged 65 years and above. The crimes include California senior fraud and nursing home fraud. Usually, the aged people are taken advantage of due to their age primarily for financial gains.

  • Financial Fraud: Involves general types of financial fraud like securities fraud, cheque fraud, and credit card fraud.

  • Other Fraud Crimes: Other severe fraud crimes prosecuted in California include gambling fraud, vehicle registration stickers fraud, mail fraud, telemarketing fraud, and handicapped parking fraud.

Penalties For Fraud Crimes

According to their specific codes, most fraud crimes are prosecuted in California but punished under theft laws, perjury laws, or forgery laws. The crimes are mostly wobbler. It means they may be punished as either a felony or misdemeanor based on the criminal history and the circumstances of the case. Again, most fraud crimes are federal offenses thus punished by both federal courts and state courts.

Legal Defenses for Fraud Offenses In California

The common legal defenses for fraud crimes include:

  • You acted due to police entrapment.
  • You had no fraudulent intentions.
  • The police mistakenly arrested you.
  1. Perjury, Penal Code 118 PC

Perjury laws are outlined in Penal Code 118. The crime involves deliberate actions of making misrepresentation or giving false information when under oath. Cases of perjury include knowingly presenting fabricated information to testify at the court, including falsified details in a signed declaration, signed certificate, signed an affidavit, or a driving license application.

Subordination of Perjury

The law is outlined under PC 127.  Perjury subordinates you from willingly convincing people to commit the crime. When perjury occurs, then you and the other person commit a crime. For you to face conviction, the prosecution team must demonstrate you knowingly persuaded another person to testify falsely.

Penalties For Perjury Offense

According to the law, perjury is a felony that triggers a jail period not exceeding four years. Also, the judge may award you a probation time.

Legal perjury Defenses

Possible defenses for the crime include you: you were not under oath, you didn't understand the question, the false information passed was a mistake but not a lie.

  1. Pyramid Schemes

A pyramid scheme takes various forms, but generally, the crime involves a promise of making money for recruiting new members. According to the law, pyramid schemes are illegal, and most people lose money in the process. The scheme will collapse once the existing investors cash out, thus no investments and earnings, making it challenging to recruit new members.  A pyramid scheme involves one or more of the following factors:

  • You earn money primarily based on the number of people you recruit and the money they pay to join rather than sell products to the public. This is a great sign of crime.
  • A lot of pressure is issued on signing up. Most scammers use carefully crafted scripts to make you excited about the business.
  • The business requires you to purchase a lot of inventory or expensive inventory.

Penalties for Pyramid Scheme

Accusations for a pyramid scheme have severe penalties for the offender. In California, prosecution for the pyramid scheme is outlined in PC 327.  The law considers it a crime to prepare, contrive or participate in an endless chain. If you face a conviction, you will face 1 or 3 years in prison.

  1. The Crime of Extortion

The crime involves the use of threats or force with an intent to compel somebody else to give up his/her property or using force to make a public officer neglect or act to do a public duty. Behaviors involving extortion may include entering a house with a knife, then threatening the owner he/she would kill them if they fail to open a safe containing money or jewelry. 

Proving Extortion Charge In California

To face conviction of extortion charge, the prosecution team must prove a series of factors like:

  • You unlawfully threatened to cause injuries to the alleged victim
  • Once you used force, you aimed at using the created fear to obtain the victim's money or property.
  • The use of force or threat resulted in the victim complying with you
  • You threatened to expose another person's secrets which could cause personal injuries to them
  • You issue a threat that you would accuse the victim of a crime.

Possible Penalties for Extortion Charge

Under California law, extortion is a felony. When you face conviction for the crime, you face imprisonment for not less than seven years. A federal felony is grouped under four classes. The sentences vary according to the classes. Also, the felony charge may remain in your criminal record.

Legal Defenses For Extortion

If you face a conviction for an extortion charge, you need to hire a competent defense attorney to fight your charges. With the attorney's help, you may argue:  the accusations of extortion were false, or the actions that made the victim part with their money, property were not unlawful.

  1. Forgery, Penal Code 470 PC

California penal code 470 pc refers to forgery as knowingly doing the listed acts to commit a crime:

  • Falsifying or altering a legal document
  • Signing on behalf of someone's name
  • Recreating another person's handwriting
  • Changing or giving a false document as a genuine one.
  • Aiding and abetting someone to commit forgery.

Note that PC 470 is limited to crimes committed with the intention of defrauding another person. Therefore,  you cannot be guilty of forgery if the prosecution team cannot prove your interest in defrauding.

Penalties For Forgery In California

California PC 470 carries severe penalties. At most times, the crime is considered a wobbler, which means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The prosecutor's decision on the charges relies on your criminal history and the circumstances surrounding the offense.

When you face conviction for PC 470 misdemeanor, the punishment includes one-year imprisonment in county jail, informal probation, restitution, and a fine of $1000. If you face conviction for PC 470  felony, the penalties include: fine up to $10,000, imprisonment for three years in jail, restitution, and formal probation.

Common Legal Defenses of Forgery

When you face charges for committing forgery, there are available defenses you may use to fight the accusations. The legal defenses include, you did not intend to commit forgery, you were falsely accused, the handwriting is not yours, and if the forged document is not fraudulent.

Find an Attorney Near Me

A white collar charge may result in a stained personal reputation. The conviction for the crime may cause severe penalties like hefty fines and incarceration. The risks of the crime may alter your daily life. Therefore, it's vital to hire a defense attorney who is conversant with white collar crimes. Remember, as mentioned above, each white collar crime is unique, and your attorney needs to investigate and decide the best legal defense to fight against the crime. At Koenig Law Office, our lawyers have many years of experience, and we build a strong defense based on the facts of your case. We serve our clients facing charges in Bakersfield, CA. Call us today at 661-793-7222 for a free case evaluation.