In California, white-collar crimes are unlawful actions committed by public officials, entrepreneurs, business people, and any other professionals through fraud or deception for financial gain. White-collar crimes involve several criminal offenses that fall under the federal government or state's laws. A charge for any white-collar crime could cast a shadow on your integrity and stain your reputation. It is naïve to think that white-collar crimes can't attract severe charges. Therefore, whether you are facing federal or state charges, you must take them seriously. If you are facing white-collar crime charges in Santa Ana, CA, Darwish Law will help you build a defense to protect your reputation, freedom, and rights.
Types of White-collar Crimes
There are several white-collar crimes in California. The common white-collar crimes in California are:
Bribery PC 68
It's a crime under PC 68 for a public employee, a ministerial officer, or an executive officer to take or ask for a bribe in California. Under this statute, a bribe means a promise to offer an advantage, something of present or future value. If the prosecutor charges you with bribery, he or she must prove the following elements:
- You acted with corrupt intent, and your official or public duty was influenced illegally
- When you took, requested, or accepted to take the bribe, you portrayed that the bribe could influence your official vote, decision, opinion, or act unlawfully
- You took, requested, or accepted a bribe
- You were a public employee, ministerial officer, or executive officer of the California state when taking the bribe.
In California, it's a felony crime for any person to violate PC 68. You could face a sentence of up to four years in a state prison or substantial fines. The judge also has the mandate to give you felony probation instead of a jail term. It could cost you your gun rights if the court convicts you under this statute. Felony convictions prohibit defendants from possessing or owning guns in California.
You could also face negative immigration consequences if the court convicts you of bribery. Depending on the circumstances of your case, a bribery crime might amount to an aggravated felony. You could therefore be marked as inadmissible or deported from the U.S if you are a non-citizen.
However, you can receive an expungement if the judge gives you probation instead of a jail term, and you complete your probation successfully. Unfortunately, crimes that lead to jail terms cannot be granted an expungement.
Perjury PC 118
Under California's PC 118, perjury involves providing false information deliberately while under oath. The criminal offense applies to:
- Giving false information about a car accident in a deposition for a personal injury case
- Giving false information on a material matter in a signed affidavit
- Providing incorrect information about a suspect's identification when testifying in a state's criminal proceedings
For a conviction for perjury charges, the prosecutor must prove the following elements against you:
- You knew you were making the statement while under penalty of perjury or oath
- When you made the false statement, you intended to declare or testify falsely under oath
- The information is considered material to the matter at hand
- You intentionally stated the information as true even though you knew it was false
You may face perjury law punishment if you give a false statement in situations like:
- In a signed certificate
- When being deposed
- In a DL 44 driver's license application at the DMV
- When testifying in court
- In a signed affidavit
In California, it's a felony crime for any person to violate PC 118. You could face a fine of $10,000 maximum or a sentence of up to four years in state prison if the court convicts you under this statute.
You could also face negative immigration consequences if the court convicts you of perjury. In California, perjury is a moral turpitude offense. You could be marked as inadmissible or deported if you are a U.S non-citizen. You could also lose your gun rights in California. Under this statute, you can only receive an expungement if the judge awards you probation. If you receive a jail term, you don't qualify for an expungement. However, you can challenge perjury charges in court using the following arguments:
- No evidence
- No intention to carry out perjury
- False allegations
Forgery PC 470
In California, forgery involves several offenses. Forgery can mean filing false insurance claims, writing a will without authorization, and dealing with false checks. According to PC 470 of the California law, the idea behind all forgery instances involves the following elements:
- You altered or falsely did the writing.
- By using writing covered by statutes of forgery
- You intended to defraud another person.
There are three groups of writings covered by forgery statutes. They include:
- Writing a false check, delivering, uttering, drawing, or making a bank draft or check when you are aware that there is no money in the account to cover it.
- Intentionally passing a false financial document like a fraudulent lottery ticket, false check, forged legal documents, counterfeit money, or a false driving identification or license.
- Signing someone's name, or a made-up name to any legal document like a check
It's a wobbler crime to carry out forgery in California. However, the California PC 473 makes forgery a misdemeanor crime after passing Proposition 47, unless you forge a document worth $950 or more.
If the court convicts you of felony forgery, you could face a penalty of jail term for 16 months, two, or three years in county jail. If the court convicts you of misdemeanor forgery charges, you could face a maximum jail term of one year in county jail. The penalty may also include a fine of up to $1,000, depending on your case's circumstances. Under some other forgery charges, you may carry out community service, restitution, and pay a fine of up to $10,000.
If the court convicts you under PC 470, you may lose your gun rights. Felony charges prohibit defendants from possessing a gun in California. You could also face negative immigration consequences since forgery is a moral turpitude offense. You could be deported or marked as inadmissible in the U.S if you are a non-citizen. However, with the help of a competent attorney, you can fight your forgery charges using the following arguments:
- The police coerced you to confess to the crime.
- You are a victim of false allegations.
- You did not intend to defraud
Extortion PC 518
If you threaten or force a public officer to carry out an official act in California, it is an extortion offense under PC 518. Extortion also applies when you receive money or property from another person forcefully. If the prosecutor charges you of extortion, he or she must prove the following elements before the court:
- You received the money or property from the victim because of your threats
- You compelled the victim to accept to give you money or property using threats or force
- You received money or property from the victim
- You forced or threatened to expose a secret about another person or injure him or her
It's a felony offense in California for any person to violate PC 518. If the court convicts you under this statute, you may face a jail term of four years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000 maximum. It's an offense of moral turpitude in California if the court convicts you of extortion. You may be deported or marked as inadmissible if you are a U.S non-citizen. You could also lose your gun rights in California since felony convictions prohibit defendants from owning or possessing firearms. However, you may challenge extortion charges by presenting the following defenses:
- You had a lawful right to make the threat
- The use of force or threat was not to demand something valuable
- The use of force or threat was not the reason that compelled another person to consent
- You did not use force or threat with the demand for something valuable
Embezzlement PC 503
It's illegal under California's PC 503 to take another person's property entrusted to you to deprive him or her of the right to utilize the property. If the prosecutor charges you of embezzlement, he or she must prove the following elements:
- You fraudulently took another person's property for your benefit
- The owner entrusted you with the property
- Because of trust they had in you, the owner entrusted you with the property, but you abused the trust by depriving the owner of the property
Embezzlement is an offense that leads to imprisonment, financial fines, or both. The defendant may receive a lesser penalty if he or she returns or repays what was embezzled. This may depend on how much harm the act caused and the extent of embezzlement.
You could be guilty of grand theft or grand or petty theft if you violate PC 503 in California. The conviction will be based on the value or the type of property you stole or borrowed. You will receive grand theft charges if the associated property is a vehicle, a gun, or property worth $950 or more.
A grand theft conviction under this statute is a wobbler offense. You could, therefore, face misdemeanor or felony charges. If the court convicts you on misdemeanor grand theft charges, the penalty could be a jail term of up to one year in county jail. If the court convicts you of felony grand theft, the penalty could be a jail term of three years maximum.
If you embezzle property worth $950 or less, the court may convict you of misdemeanor petty theft. In this case, you will face a penalty of six months jail term in county jail. If the court charges you of embezzlement, you can employ the following defenses to fight your charges:
- You were mentally incapacitated at the time of committing the crime.
- You had no intent to commit embezzlement.
- Entrapment by the police
- You were under duress when you committed the offense.
- Insufficient evidence
Any time you cause harm or loss to someone or commit an act that results in an undeserved benefit for yourself, then you have committed fraud. The acts of fraud in California are driven by motives like a desire to escape criminal culpability or financial gain. Some types of fraud committed in California include bank fraud, internet fraud, mail fraud, and security exchange fraud.
Bank fraud is a crime where a person knowingly and intentionally schemes to defraud a financial institution. Bank fraud may be committed through loan fraud, forging checks, and counterfeiting bank statements, among others. Bank fraud is charged under federal law. If the court convicts you of bank fraud, you could face a hefty fine of up to $1,000,000 and a jail term of up to 30 years. The allegation of bank fraud could also tarnish your credibility and reputation. This could make it hard for you to earn a livelihood and find employment in the future. Federal offenses like bank fraud are charged on a highly public scale and to the law's full extent.
Internet fraud is also known as cyber offense and is an excellent source of law enforcement and criminal activities throughout the United States and California. Over ten percent of internet fraud cases come from California among the 300,000 cases reported in the U.S every year. Internet fraud is charged under PC 502 in California. The penalties for internet fraud convictions are often severe. The federal government or the state may convict you of internet fraud depending on the victim's location, where, and how you committed the crime.
It's a wobbler offense under PC 502 in California for any person to engage in internet fraud. You may face misdemeanor or felony charges. If the court convicts you of misdemeanor charges, you could face a jail term of one year in federal prison or a fine of up to $1,000. If the court convicts you of felony charges, you could face a jail term of ten years in federal prison under certain circumstances.
In California, mail fraud is convicted as a federal offense. This is because the mail system in the U.S falls under the federal government. You may face the charges if you fraudulently devise schemes to defraud another person using U.S mail. It is a federal crime under Title 18 USC 1341 to use mail service for fraud. Mail fraud attracts severe penalties in California. You may face a sentence of 20 years in prison if the court convicts you of this offense. You also risk facing a hefty fine of up to $1,000,000.
Security Exchange Fraud
Security fraud happens when an investor is made to sell or purchase security based on false information. Investors rely on professionals like investment advisers and brokers to assist them in managing and facilitating their investment. Investment advisers and brokers are expected to act with reasonable care, utmost good faith, and loyalty while dealing with their clients. When an investment adviser or broker commits fraud, this fiduciary duty is breached. This often takes the form of recklessness, omission, or misrepresentation.
Federal laws and California laws are responsible for dealing with security exchange fraud in California. The two federal laws that deal with security fraud include the Securities Act of 1933 and the Act of 1934. The 1933 Act governs disclosure requirements and registration of securities. The 1934 Act regulates the sale and offer of securities. To prove federal security fraud, the prosecutor has to show the following:
- Damages and economic loss
- A connection with the sale or purchase of securities
- The omission of fact or material misrepresentation
- Loss causation, which is a causal connection between the omission or misrepresentation and the loss
- The defendant acted with deliberate recklessness or intentionally.
- Reliance on omission or misrepresentation
If the court convicts you under federal securities fraud laws, you may face a jail term of 20 years in federal prison. It's a wobbler offense under California law for any person to engage in security exchange fraud. You may face misdemeanor or felony charges.
Any person who sells securities in violation of the terms of qualification or intentionally sells securities without adhering to qualification requirements could face the following penalties:
- Sentence of up to 16 months, two, or three years in a county jail
- Fine of up to $1,000,000
Any person who engages in insider trading or intentionally makes misleading security transaction or engages in market manipulation may face the following penalties:
- Sentence of up to two, three, or five years in a county jail
- Fine of up to $10,000,000
If you are facing white-collar crime charges, you should contact a competent criminal attorney to walk with you. Depending on your charges, white-collar crimes could involve federal laws and California state laws with a wide range of penalties. A competent attorney will assist you in navigating any criminal liability and will guide you on the available defenses. At Darwish Law in Santa Ana, we will help you with your charges. Contact us today at 714-887-4810 and speak to one of our attorneys.