TAMPA WHITE-COLLAR CRIMES ATTORNEY FIGHTING FOR A DEFENDANT’S RIGHTS
White-collar offenses are not violent crimes, but the ramifications of white-collar crimes can nevertheless impact thousands of innocent people. Convictions for the most egregious of these crimes may be penalized with lengthy prison terms.
What, exactly, are “white-collar” crimes? Most non-violent financial crimes – when fraud and deception are used to take money or property unlawfully – are categorized as white-collar crimes.
Depending on the details, these crimes may be charged as misdemeanors or as felonies at the state level or the federal level. Convictions for white-collar crimes are often followed by civil lawsuits filed by victims who are seeking to recoup their losses.
WHAT CRIMES ARE CONSIDERED WHITE-COLLAR CRIMES?
The victims of white-collar crimes are typically banks, other financial institutions, and governmental agencies, but any wealthy individual can be a white-collar crime victim. These are the most common white-collar crimes:
- insurance fraud
- healthcare fraud
- credit card fraud
- money laundering
Investigations into white-collar criminal activities can sometimes last for months. Because white-collar criminal suspects generally pose no imminent danger to the public, investigators can take their time to build a persuasive case and compile an abundance of evidence.
White-collar crimes – especially insurance fraud and healthcare fraud – are on the rise in Florida, and in their efforts to combat these crimes, law enforcement officials and prosecutors sometimes make a mistake and accuse an innocent person.
If you are targeted by a white-collar criminal investigation, it’s important to try to “get in front” of the investigation. The right attorney’s intervention with investigators, for example, can save you more than time and money. It can save you from months of apprehension and anxiety.
HOW DOES FLORIDA PENALIZE CONVICTIONS FOR WHITE-COLLAR CRIMES?
In some cases, a good lawyer may be able to prevent criminal charges from being filed against you. If that’s not possible, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea arrangement that you can live with – something that satisfies all parties involved.
The penalties for white-collar crime convictions depend on the details of the crime and the amount of money or property involved. What follows are the maximum penalties that may be imposed after a conviction for a white-collar crime in Florida:
- For a second-degree misdemeanor: a fine of $500 and sixty days in jail
- For a first-degree misdemeanor: a fine of $1,000 and a year in prison
- For a third-degree felony: a fine of $5,000 and five years in prison
- For a second-degree felony: a fine of $10,000 and fifteen years in prison
- For a first-degree felony: a fine of $10,000 and thirty years to life in prison
Finally, if someone commits two or more related white-collar crimes involving $50,000 or more, that person can be prosecuted for a first-degree felony punishable upon conviction with a $30,000 fine and thirty years in prison.
HOW DO DEFENSE LAWYERS FIGHT WHITE-COLLAR CRIME CHARGES?
If a criminal charge is filed against you, do not try to act as your own lawyer. Instead, exercise politely your right to remain silent, insist on your right to a lawyer, and do not speak to police officers, investigators, or prosecutors unless your own lawyer is present.
When an attorney develops a defense strategy in a white-collar case, the first step is to examine the prosecution’s evidence. There are usually weaknesses in the case and alternate interpretations of the evidence. You may have been coerced, entrapped, or framed for the crime.
Most laws that govern white-collar crimes require prosecutors to prove a defendant’s criminal intent. If someone makes a financial mistake that was entirely unintentional, the lack of criminal intent should result in the dismissal of the charge or a jury returning a not guilty verdict.
SHOULD A WHITE-COLLAR DEFENDANT AGREE TO A PLEA BARGAIN?
If you are innocent, you should be represented by an attorney who will use every available legal tool and tactic in your defense. However, if the evidence against you is substantial, and if a conviction is inevitable, the state may offer you a lesser sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.
As mentioned previously, a plea bargain may in fact be your best option, but don’t accept any deal – or sign any legal document at this time – unless your defense attorney recommends it.
SOUND LEGAL ADVICE AND AGGRESSIVE DEFENSE REPRESENTATION
Tampa white-collar criminal defense attorney Patrick B. Courtney has been practicing law for more than 24 years. He’s worked as a prosecutor, so he has substantial experience on both sides of white-collar crime cases. He knows how to win justice on a client’s behalf.
Pat Courtney is a Tampa white-collar criminal defense attorney who represents clients in Manatee, Pasco, Hillsborough, Polk, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties. Call his law offices at (813) 967-2000, or complete the online contact form here on this website.