Pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 775.0844(3), white collar crime is defined as a conspiracy to commit or the commission of any felony crime as provided in the listed chapters that pertain to theft or fraudulent practices. Generally, white collar crime constitutes non-violent offenses that are committed for the purpose of financial gain. Its label comes from the idea that it was typically “white collar workers,” including business owners, lawyers, managers, bankers, government workers, and other professionals who were the culprits. This is why white collar crimes have often been referred to as “economic crime,” “upperworld crime,” “abuse of power,” and “crimes of the powerful.”
The Florida white collar criminal defense lawyers at Musca Law understand that these crimes are heavily pursued by aggressive law enforcement agencies with crime units at both the federal and state levels. While no one is typically physically harmed by white collar crimes, the Florida Legislature has taken note of the emotional, economic, and psychological upheaval on victims – in particular, the elderly who are common targets. These offenses often involve significant sums of money, and are punished more severely than a typical theft-related matter.
Examples of white collar crimes may include:
- Identity theft
- Healthcare fraud
- Accounting fraud
- Worthless checks
- Counterfeit securities
- Insurance fraud
- Grand theft
- Credit card fraud
- Mortgage fraud
- Pyramid schemes
- Scheme to defraud
Under the White Collar Crime Victim Protection Act, enacted by the Florida Legislature back in 2001 in response to the increase in white collar crimes, it takes into consideration how many people were affected, how greatly people were harmed, and the amount of funds stolen.
The Office of the State Attorney for the Tenth Judicial Circuit provides that these criminal offenses involve the following:
- The commission of deceit or fraud or a conspiracy to commit either on an individual;
- A felony crime committed or conspiracy to commit a felony crime with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive a person of his or her property; and
- A felony offense that involves or results in deceit or fraud upon a person or involves a conspiracy to commit fraud or deceit.
These crimes are spelled out in:
- Chapter 896 – Financial Transaction Offenses
- Chapter 895 – Offenses of Racketeering and Illegal Debts
- Chapter 838 – Bribery and Misuse of Public Office
- Chapter 832 – Issuance of Worthless Checks and Drafts
- Chapter 831 – Forgery and Counterfeiting
- Chapter 825 – Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of Elderly Persons and Disabled Adults
- Chapter 817 – Fraudulent Practices
- Chapter 815 – Computer Crimes
- Chapter 812 – Theft
- Chapter 560 – Money Transmitters’ Code
In Florida, “Aggravated white collar crimes” under the act include the following:
- Committing at least two or more white collar criminal offenses with similar or the same intents, accomplices, methods of commission, or victims;
- Victimizing at least ten or more elderly individuals;
- Victimizing at least twenty or more individuals; and
- Victimizing the State of Florida, any agency of the State, or any of its political subdivisions or agencies of those subdivisions.
In many instances, those who commit white collar crimes are often ordinary individuals who make poor or impetuous decisions. They are not necessary those who are trying to hurt anyone, as they may see the opportunity as a way to get out of a bad financial situation.
There are a variety of defenses that can be brought forth in white collar crime cases. An experienced white collar criminal defense lawyer with experience handling these complex types of offenses can help to ensure the best possible chance of a favorable outcome.
Penalties for White Collar Criminal Offenses in Florida
Most laws authorize a substantial monetary fine and/or prison term for white collar criminal offenses in Florida. There is a common misconception that those who are convicted of a white collar crime do “easy time” in a minimum security “comfortable” prison. This is certainly no guarantee that a sentence associated with a white collar crime will be served in a minimum security facility or that it will be in any way comfortable.
It is important to understand that the actual penalty depends upon the following:
- The type of criminal offense alleged
- The number of white collar crime victims
- The amount of money associated with an alleged theft
- The identity of the victims
- The criminal background of the alleged offender
- The strength of one’s defense, as brought forth by their attorney
- The mitigating factors that may be available, as brought forth by an attorney
For instance, committing a crime of writing a worthless check is either a first-degree misdemeanor, associated with a maximum one year term in jail, or a third-degree felony, which punishable by up to five years in a state prison. If, however, you commit the crime of identity theft on numerous people, it could amount to a second or first-degree felony, punishable between fifteen and thirty years in prison. If a person commits an aggravated white collar criminal offense and tries to obtain or obtains $50,000 or more, it constitutes a first-degree felony, which is associated with up to thirty years in prison.
Protecting the Rights of Florida Residents Charged with a White Collar Crime
If you are facing criminal charges, you need an aggressive advocate on your side to represent your interests. Our Florida criminal defense lawyers have over 150 years of collective experience representing individuals facing white collar crime charges. We know how to handle tough charges, from DUI to homicide.
Our firm’s attorneys are among The National Trial Lawyers – Top 100 Trial Lawyers, included in the 2012 Florida Super Lawyers® for criminal defense, and boast 10.0 Superb Avvo ratings. Our attorneys work hard to protect your future. We are hardworking, aggressive, and relentless when it comes to defending the interests of our clients. Our dedicated team of legal advocates work to exploit the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and develop a strategic defense for our clients.
Our record of success in and out of the courtroom speaks for itself.
Contact Musca Law today at (888) 484-5057 to learn more about your legal rights and options.