While most people associate criminal offenses with violence and other non-white-collar activities, the law recognizes and prohibits white-collar crimes. Subsequently, you or a loved one may become a suspect in accusations raised by afflicted victims seeking justice. The California Penal Code explains a wide range of white-collar offenses.
Thus, the prosecutor handling your case will verify the claims and prepare a case depending on the details. On the other hand, you bear the responsibility to defend yourself in court alone or using a criminal defense lawyer’s services. By choosing a criminal lawyer’s presentation, you have a better chance of avoiding incarceration and paying hefty fines. Nonetheless, the judge has the discretion to make the final decision, provided the penal code directives are obeyed.
When working with the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm, you will have access to reliable services to prepare an elaborate case presentation. Therefore, you do not have to struggle to gather evidence and prepare arguments. Instead, your criminal lawyer will take up the responsibility and provide their professional input.
By working with our team, your chances of winning the case are higher. You will also have more confidence in facing the white-collar charges compared to working alone. In addition, our lawyers are well trained to research and build legal defenses in preparation for trial. Over the years, we have worked with numerous clients in Pasadena, California, assisting them in attaining the best possible case outcome.
The Nature of White-Collar Crimes
Facing white-collar crime accusations may have detrimental effects on your career, personal life, and freedom. Therefore, understanding the nature of offenses can help you avoid them or prepare for the oncoming trial.
White-collar crimes are centered on illegal activities often completed in offices or other commercial environments. This means that the illegal activities do not necessarily involve physical harm or the physical destruction of valuables.
Nonetheless, the victims still suffer losses and significant harm from the illegalities. Due to this, the California Penal Code prohibits various actions and provides repercussions for anyone found guilty of engaging in the crimes.
Once arrested and arraigned in court, the prosecutor takes over your case. The prosecution team’s goal is to present a case proving you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, the prosecutor will focus on each element of crime related to your offense, making sure to highlight your participation. Afterward, the judge will assess the weight of the prosecutor’s case compared to your defenses and issue a verdict.
Since white-collar crimes often involve deception and corruption, these elements of crime cut across the different types of offenses. Nevertheless, you want to have a closer look at the common white-collar offenses prosecuted in California to help you prepare for trial. This way, you will understand the prosecutor’s strategies and work on countering them. These offenses are:
1. Money Laundering
When you are involved in illegal money-making schemes, channeling the funds becomes difficult. This is because the officials assigned to monitor unusual cash inflow may flag your account. The investigations will further lead to a request for additional details regarding the source of money. Subsequently, most persons involved in the illegal trades will look for more legitimate avenues to channel the money.
Section 186.10 of the Penal Code prohibits the activity, encouraging the preservation of proceeds of crime. As a result, money laundering is a punishable offense that attracts either misdemeanor or felony charges. Upon arrest, the prosecutor will have to prove your involvement in channeling funds into other ventures to try and appear legitimate.
Elements of Money Laundering to Prove in Court
Since the burden of proof falls on the prosecutor, they will need to show your involvement in money laundering by tackling each element sufficiently. Therefore, you should prepare for an elaborate trial process involving the presentation of overwhelming evidence against you. The main elements of crime in money laundering are:
You Completed or Tried to Complete Financial Transactions
Firstly, there must be proof of involvement in monetary transactions, as this is what raises scrutiny. The prosecutor is interested in how you tried to move the money, as it may further reveal your unlawful intentions. Hence, the investigation officers will present their reports on any unusual bank activity involving large sums of money over short periods.
Sometimes, you can foresee an oncoming arrest and trial if you undergo questioning regarding your finances. Nevertheless, you want to remain calm and contact your criminal defense attorney for further guidance on the way forward.
The Transactions Involved Amounts More than $5000 Weekly or $25,000 Monthly
The investigation officers tasked with flagging money laundering transactions cannot go after all bank clients with substantial amounts. Doing so would be illogical, as some earn their money in legitimate business or employment opportunities. Due to this, they rely on an alternative method that involves studying the amount of cash deposited in your account per week or month.
Usually, people in employment have to wait for a specific payment date to deposit their money, as do certified business owners. Thus, making deposits every week at irregular intervals will increase suspicion on your account, resulting in further investigation. The officers will check for funds exceeding $5000 per week or $25,000 per month before forming probable cause for arrest.
You Made the Transactions in the Interest of Illegal Activities
Lastly, your transactions must have been intended to benefit illegal activities. The prosecutor, therefore, requires sufficient evidence to show that your sources of funds were from illegal trades. These include drug trafficking, scamming people online or theft, and robberies.
However, since the investigation officers may take time to trace the illegal activities and find evidence linking you to the cash gains, your trial may last longer. As a result, you should be ready for unpredictable timelines as the prosecutor finds evidence against you.
Penalties for Money Laundering
If the trial concludes in the prosecutor's favor, the judge proceeds to issue sentencing. As mentioned, money laundering is a wobbler crime that may attract misdemeanor or felony charges. Thus, a misdemeanor charge leads to one year in county jail or a mandatory fine of up to $1000. On the other hand, felony charges result in a maximum sentence of four years in county jail or a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the laundered money. The judge decides on whichever amount is more.
2. Forgery, PC 470
Providing false or altered details in official documents is also a punishable offense provided for in section 470 of the Penal Code. The law prohibits forgery because it results in unlawful gains by undeserving persons and substantial losses for the victims. Thus, the prosecutor will prove your involvement in all elements of the crime to ensure you face penalties.
You should remember that since fraud may occur in various ways, the prosecutor will only focus on the elements relevant to your case. Nonetheless, learning about the crime factors is beneficial for case preparation. The main elements associated with forgery include:
You Prepared Counterfeit Documents and Passed them as Legal
Making or preparing counterfeit documents may involve forging a signature or including a fictitious name as the authorizing party. Additionally, making fake documents may involve fabricating details and printing them to resemble an original document closely. All these actions are taken into account and will lead to a forgery charge.
However, the prosecutor must provide proof of your engagement in the actions. Thus, any surveillance footage, computer records, or witnesses who can attest to your engagement in the forgery will be a crucial source of information during the trial.
You Changed Information Contained in a Will
Alternatively, changing the contents of a will to include yourself as an eligible beneficiary is illegal. The law dictates that a will or codicil document should remain unaltered, as it is the deceased's final decision. Changing the contents for your personal gain is malicious and may cause detrimental outcomes to other deserving beneficiaries.
Due to the illegal operations involved, the prosecutor will strive to present any source of evidence linking you to the crime. This may include comparing copies of the original document with what you claim to be the original. Further, testimonies from accomplices and witnesses are acceptable as evidence of your unlawful actions.
The Activities Purposed for Unlawful Gain
The forgery should reflect an intention to gain benefits illegally. Any other course of action would be classified as an accidental alteration of documents. Your unlawful intent may be derived from your efforts to conceal information, among other evidential sources marked as admissible.
Penalties for Committing Forgery
As a wobbler crime, forgery may result in misdemeanor or felony charges and penalties. Misdemeanor charges are issued when the defrauded amount is $950 or less, while felonies are applicable for amounts over $950. The punishments are as follows:
- A jail sentence for up to one year
- A fine payment of up to $1000
- A summary probation sentence
- A felony probation sentence
- A jail sentence of up to three years
- A maximum fine of $10,000
3. Bribery, PC 67
Sometimes, you may prefer to steer circumstances in your favor by bringing the officials overseeing your operations. However, the Penal Code prohibits bribery under various sections as it provides an unfair advantage over other deserving persons. Moreover, it promotes corruption, leading to slower services and lower quality of work for persons who do not bribe the officials.
Section 67 of the Penal Code prohibits bribing government executives whose role is to complete duties by applying discretion. Further, you will be answerable for the offense under section 85 for bribing a legislator tasked with creating legislative statutes.
If you face a criminal trial, you may also be tempted to bribe witnesses to testify in your favor. However, section 137 of the Penal Code prohibits this, leading to legal repercussions. Bribery may involve a promise of monetary benefits or including the witness in future ventures. The investigation officers will derive the specific actions and transactions amounting to bribery.
Elements of Crime for the Prosecutor to Prove
The elements of the crime are presented depending on the circumstances of your case. Moreover, the bribery may occur through a third party, meaning you may have engaged someone else. Hence, you may become a respondent in a joint trial with the third party. The following are the main elements of bribery:
- You promised or gave someone a valuable thing
- You intend to commit corruption
- Your transaction or promise was to influence the recipient's actions
Penalties for Engaging in Bribery
Upon facing bribery charges, you will be answerable for a felony offense. Thus, you can expect the following penalties:
- Imprisonment in state prison for up to four years
- Attending a formal probation program
4. Committing Fraud
Fraud is a common charge among office executives, particularly when it involves gaining benefits unlawfully or in tax evasion. It, therefore, encompasses several illegal actions provided for in various Penal Code sections. Under section 532, fraud involves using false pretenses to acquire benefits or money that you would otherwise not be entitled to.
Types of Fraud
The following are the main types of fraud charged in California:
- Identity theft, section 475 PC.
- Credit card fraud, section 484 PC.
- Worker's Compensation fraud, section 1871.4 PC.
- Automobile fraud, section 548 to 551 PC.
- Healthcare insurance fraud, section 550 PC.
Elements of Fraud for the Prosecutor to Prove
Although all the listed types of fraud entail different elements of crime specific to each offense, the Penal Code provides for the general elements. This way, the prosecutor can still file a claim against you and proceed with a trial under general fraud charges. The elements include:
- You wilfully used false pretenses to manipulate someone.
- The other person relied on the false statements to act.
- Sufficient proof of your false pretenses is available.
Penalties for Committing Fraud
As mentioned, fraud involves taking another's belongings under pretenses. Subsequently, the law differentiates between fraud amounting to petty and grand theft. The measuring point is $950, meaning that misdemeanor charges are for fraudulent gains below the amount. On the other hand, felony charges will be issued for any amounts above $950. As a misdemeanor, you will serve up to six months in county jail or up to one year in jail. On the other hand, a felony charge results in sixteen months, two or three years in state prison.
General Defenses Applicable in white-collar Crime Cases
Since the law provides for accused persons to defend themselves, you will have a chance to present your defenses in court. This process follows the prosecutor’s case presentation and is often in response to the accusations put across. Thus, you want to take ample time to prepare your defenses because they can help cast reasonable doubt on the prosecutor's case. In return, the judge and jury presiding over the hearing may be persuaded to change their view and side with you.
When preparing an elaborate defense, your criminal attorney should assess the case facts and identify any gaps in the prosecutor’s arguments. Further, the lawyer should help introduce information that was overlooked to provide an alternative course of events. Upon deciding on the best approach, your defenses will be ready for presentation. The following are some generally accepted defenses:
You Did Not Have an Intention to Defraud
Most white-collar crimes involve deception leading to fraud. As a result, your defenses will mainly focus on disproving the prosecutor’s accusations regarding your intention to defraud a third party. You should note that the prosecutor’s argument will depend on the case circumstances. Therefore, your response should highlight the main arguments and rebut them for a proper defense articulation.
For example, an intention to defraud entails keeping the truth from the victim or giving false information for wrongful gain. However, if you genuinely believed that the information you provided was truthful, you can build a valid defense. Supporting your counterargument with evidence is also advisable, as it improves your credibility. Your criminal defense attorney will guide you on how to navigate the preparations and presentations.
You Face False Accusations
Similarly, facing false accusations is common among white-collar environments for various reasons. For example, the real mastermind may try to cover their tracks by blaming you. Alternatively, they may try to discredit your line of work, particularly if you have had encounters with the law before.
Subsequently, facing false accusations should be an acceptable defense, provided you can prove your non-involvement in the criminal accusations. When you deny the allegations, the judge may require you to prove the actual party responsible for the crime.
Thus, your criminal defense lawyer can help by gathering evidence and refining the information to present in court. Alternatively, you can work on an alibi to remove you from the crime sequence and further prove your non-involvement in the offense.
You Committed the Offense Out of Coercion
Sometimes, law enforcement officers conducting an arrest may overlook some information when apprehending you. Typically, the officers track your activities and form probable cause for arrest based on their observations. However, elements like coercion or threats from third parties are not always apparent. This, therefore, means you may face arrest based on actions you committed involuntarily.
Further, although the prosecutor’s presentations must prove your involvement in all elements of crime, some arguments may be unsubstantiated. For example, the prosecutor should prove you committed the crime wilfully. Hence, your defense should aim to prove that coercion was the main factor influencing your actions.
Your criminal defense lawyer can do this by finding witnesses to testify for your case, as well as any footage showing the coercion. Further, any documents like warning letters that imposed duress to act unlawfully are valuable sources of information to include. If successful, the judge may reduce your sentence significantly or order your release.
You Did Not Have an Intention to Engage in Corruption
Similarly, you may have lacked the intention to engage in corruption when acting. This defense can be useful when facing bribery charges, depending on the case circumstances. For example, if you genuinely believed that someone gave you money or other benefits as a kind gesture, you can build on the defense.
The same argument applies to someone who paid off a government official, thinking it was part of the mandatory service charges. For example, the defense can apply if an official gave you an overpriced quotation as a service fee. You can argue that you were unaware the extra amount was a bribe. However, you should ensure your presentation reflects your genuine lack of knowledge about bribery.
There Was Police Misconduct During Investigations and Arrest
Lastly, some criminal cases may involve police misconduct from the time of the arrest to trial. The mischief may occur in various forms, resulting in illegally obtaining evidence and unfair conditions to the suspect. Subsequently, your criminal defense attorney can help you raise the concern in court, mainly if the prosecutor failed to act on it.
Some types of police misconduct include giving false police reports to incriminate the arrested suspect. As a result, the prosecutor introduces the information and uses it against you, building unfair perspectives on your case. Some officers coerce the arrested persons into admitting fault, even when they have not committed the crime.
Alternatively, the misconduct may involve planting evidence to link the suspect with the alleged crime. Since these actions result in the unfair prosecutor of the victim, raising the defense can lead to an acquittal. However, the judge takes police misconduct accusations seriously, meaning your proof should be reliable.
Contact a Pasadena Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me
Handling white-collar crime charges without an attorney’s assistance can be hectic, especially if you are a first-time offender. Subsequently, seeking assistance from a team of legal professionals is advisable to help you attain better case results. When looking for a criminal attorney to help with your case, you want to ensure that they have a wealth of experience handling the matter. Further, they should be dedicated to your case and ready to answer your questions. This will help you build confidence in their services for an easier time throughout the trial.
At Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm, you will find some of the most experienced criminal attorneys serving in Pasadena, California. The team has handled multiple cases for clients facing different white-collar crimes, giving them the required competence. Furthermore, working with the team gives you access to verified and reliable details concerning the general criminal process. As a result, you will have someone ready to handle any concerns you have. If you or a loved one requires the services of a criminal defense attorney to fight off white-collar crime charges, call us today at 626-628-0564.