Los Angeles White Collar Crime Lawyer

Contact the Hurwitz Law Group today to schedule a consultation about your white collar criminal case, and we can let you know how our firm can help. Many people fighting white-collar charges may be surprised to be among the accused. We can help protect your rights in this situation.

Most Americans are familiar with the term “white collar crime,” but Californians should understand the specific laws pertaining to these offenses. A white-collar crime typically involves financial fraud, deception, or unethical business practices and most often occurs in a business capacity. There are many types of white collar crimes, and anyone facing white collar crime charges needs to understand California law. A Los Angeles white collar crimes lawyer can be a great asset to individuals facing wrongful accusations or unjust white collar criminal charges.

Types of White Collar Crimes

Different parts of the California Penal Code apply to different types of white collar crime:

  • Chapter 4, Sections 470 through 483.5 pertain to forgery and counterfeiting. Forgery is the act of falsifying another person’s signature or official seal or assuming the identity of another person. Counterfeiting is the unlawful production of official documents, including currency.
  • Chapter 6, Sections 503 through 515 pertain to embezzlement. Embezzlement is the unlawful appropriate of money or property by the person entrusted with it. For example, a business owner quietly depositing money from the company into a personal account without authorization commits embezzlement.
  • Chapter 7, Sections 518 through 527 pertain to extortion. Extortion is the act of obtaining another person’s property through deceptive or intimidating means. For example, threatening a person with physical harm if they do not sell a piece of property at an unreasonably low price is one example of extortion.
  • Chapter 10, Sections 548 through 551 pertain to crimes against insurers and insured properties. This can include insurance fraud, which is deliberately damaging private property to make a fraudulent insurance claim or falsifying information on an insurance claim to obtain a large settlement.

There are many types of white collar crimes, and their defining traits are generally deceit, concealment, and abuse of trust. Other examples of white collar crimes include computer crimes, bribery (illegally exchanging money for favors), pension fund crimes, and RICO crimes. Under RICO law, if you can charge one member of a conspiracy with a felony, all members of the conspiracy are subject to those felony charges. This is important, because most white collar criminal activity involves more than one person, and all participants could face felony charges due to the actions of one participant.

Anyone found guilty of a white-collar crime potentially faces imprisonment in county jail or state prison, expensive fines in the thousands of dollars, and civil penalties from victims of their criminal behavior. For example, a person who defrauds an investor of millions of dollars will likely face several years in prison and substantial fines but will also likely face civil liability for the victim’s damages.

Defending Against White Collar Criminal Charges

There are few viable defenses available to those accused of committing white collar crimes. Most of the perpetrators of white collar crimes do so from positions of authority, and very few circumstances will lead to reduced or dismissed charges. One possible defense is duress or acting under the forcible coercion of another party. For example, an acquaintance of a person who processes insurance claims uses threats of bodily harm to compel the person to fraudulently process a claim in the aggressor’s favor. In such a case, the person who commits the white-collar crime only does so out of fear for personal safety. Entrapment is another possible defense if a law enforcement officer encourages an individual to engage in white collar criminal activity that he or she would otherwise not have done.

In some cases, involving investments or financial services, incompetence may be a viable defense if the defendant can prove the white-collar crime was in fact an honest mistake. This may have negative implications for the defendant’s career, but it may help avoid criminal charges. In any event, the right Los Angeles white-collar crimes lawyer will make a big difference in the outcome of such a case.