White collar crimes run the gamut from securities scams to bribery, fraud, counterfeiting and more. While the range of these offense is substantial, they all have certain things in common. First, they are economic in nature, meaning that in one way or another, one of the goals of each offense is to obtain money or something of value using illegal means. Second, they are distinguished from violent crimes, that is, crimes involving actual or threatened violence, even though some violent crimes, like robbery, usually have an underlying economic motive.
While there are similarities among all the various white collar crimes, the elements of these offenses differ markedly from one case to another. Some of the more common subjects for white collar crimes charged in state court are:
When you use another person’s credit (or debit) card without permission, you commit an unlawful act under California law. The means by which this can be accomplished varies from case to case. They can include simply stealing the card, stealing the card number, selling card numbers or access codes, counterfeiting credit cards, and forging another person’s signature in connection with the use of a credit card, among others. Some of the credit card crimes are classified as grand theft due to the nature of the crime itself; in others, the classification may depend upon the amount of money or the value of the property involved.
When most people think of bribery, they envision a public servant accepting money from a private source in order to influence the servant’s actions. This includes giving money to a juror or judge to influence a case, for example, or bribing a legislator to affect a vote on a piece of legislation. These types of public corruption charges are often felonies. In addition, commercial bribery is a crime. It consists of giving, taking or soliciting something of value to influence a person to use his position for a corrupt purpose, without the knowledge of his employer. It can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
While securities fraud cases are often prosecuted in federal court, the state law in California prohibits many of the same practices, including insider trading, using false statements of fact to sell (or offer to sell) securities, and others. Some securities violations are wobblers under section 25540(a) of the California Corporations Code, although fraud in connection with the offer, purchase or sale of securities is punishable under section 25541(a) as a felony. Violations can also carry a potential fine of up to one million dollars and more, depending upon the specific law involved.
When you lawfully come into possession of money or property, then use it in a way not authorized by the terms of the trust or agreement governing its use, the offense is called embezzlement. It is a form of theft.
Writing or passing a bad check with intent to defraud is a wobbler.
The underlying theme in most white collar cases is the presence of a paper trail that can help – or hurt – the defense. Understanding accounting principles, and being able to investigate, digest and formulate a viable defense strategy is essential if you are facing such a charge. That’s where we come in. Ryan J. Tegnelia is an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney who understands how best to defend against white collar charges. Call today for a free consultation.