White Collar & Economic Crimes
“White collar crime” is a catch-all phrase for a variety of economic and non-violent criminal offenses, including fraud of all types, embezzlement, grand theft, and forgery. Some examples of fraud include insurance fraud, workers compensation fraud, real estate fraud, consumer fraud, medicare fraud, mortgage fraud, bribery, stock manipulation, theft by false pretenses, and computer crimes. It is common to see many of these crimes charged together on a criminal complaint because they share common elements and prosecutors tend to pursue alternative theories of securing convictions. In recent years these crimes have been prosecuted more aggressively and punished more severely due particularly to high profile cases such as Enron, Adelphia, and Martha Stewart. Additionally, since the recession began in 2008, there has been greater incidence of fraud prosecutions, including real estate fraud, mortgage fraud, wire access fraud, Ponzi schemes, and more. Punishments can be severe, with potentially lengthy prison sentences enhanced for alleged “great takings” in excess of certain dollar amounts. Typically, the assets of the accused, to include bank accounts and automobiles, are seized or frozen, leaving the accused in a true financial crisis. Proactive criminal defense may secure the early release of these assets.
Choosing a Defense Attorney
When choosing a criminal defense attorney, you must ask if this person has experience relevant to the crime for which you have been charged. As a senior deputy district attorney in Orange County, California, Mr. Flores handled only white collar crime cases on a daily basis for 3 years. This included investigating, charging, and taking these cases to trial. As a criminal defense attorney Mr. Flores has successfully defended these charges, having won dismissals in major fraud cases charging in excess of $150,000.00 to $1,000,000.00 in losses. This experience has also paid off in defending other economic crimes such as non-sufficient funds checks, credit/access card fraud, forgery, and identity theft to name a few.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who prosecutes white collar crimes?
A: White collar crimes may be either state or federal crimes. If the crime crosses state boundaries, or is investigated by the FBI, the United States Attorney will prosecute. If it is a state crime, the local district attorney will prosecute. Local district attorney offices are taking more interest in these cases and have been moving to prosecute these crimes more seriously at the state level.
Q: What is a “grand jury”?
A: A grand jury is a group of individuals selected to hear and gather information about suspected criminal activity by listening to testimony from witnesses and examining documents and other evidence submitted by the prosecutor. At the end of the proceeding, the grand jury decides whether there is enough evidence to indict the defendant for the crime. It is important that the prosecutor also present to the grand jury evidence within his or her control that point to the accused person’s innocence. The prosecution will sometimes fail to submit such evidence for the grand jury’s determination. Failure to submit such evidence may be grounds to have the indictment dismissed.
Q: What is “restitution”?
A: Restitution is compensation to the alleged victim for the losses suffered as a result of the crime. This may also include restitution fines. Many state and federal laws require a convicted person to make restitution to the victim, and the court must order restitution when the offender is sentenced. It is possible to gain a better resolution of your case if you are able to compensate the victim for incurred losses. These negotiations should take place with the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Q: Should I talk to the police, my employer, the alleged victim, or anyone else about the charges?
A: If you know or suspect that you are being investigated for any crime, under no circumstances should you speak with anyone about the facts of your case. Contrary to law enforcement suggestion, things will not get better if you “get it off your chest.” If approached, ask to speak with an attorney immediately, say nothing else, and contact an attorney immediately.
Q: What is forfeiture?
A: The government may seek criminal forfeiture whenever the property in question is used in the commission of a criminal offense, or was obtained through criminal activity. For example, an automobile purchased by a defendant with embezzled funds, may be subject to forfeiture. This ability also extends to money or bank accounts if the government proves that the money was used in the commission of a crime or is the proceeds of a crime.
Q: Do I need a lawyer to represent me even if I am innocent?
A: Every person charged with a crime needs an attorney. Even though the government bears the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, this burden often shifts to the defendant. Innocent persons charged with crimes are frequently indirectly required to prove they are not guilty before the prosecution will dismiss a case. The best way to protect yourself from injustice is to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Q: Do I need a lawyer, if I plan to plead guilty?
A: Even if you are guilty of the crime with which you are charged you must seek the advice of experienced counsel. An experienced attorney will know more about the charges, enhancements and consequences of your guilty plea and is better able to minimize your sentence and maximize your ability to rebuild your life. Criminal defense attorneys equalize the balance of power between you and the prosecution and ensure that your constitutional rights are protected.
Q: Do I have any defenses to white collar crime charges?
A: There are many defenses to white collar crime offenses depending on the specific charges and jurisdiction. Typical defenses include statutes of limitation, forensic accounting problems, and documentary and evidentiary issues, such as chain of custody, authentication, and hearsay.
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