White Collar Crime Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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White collar crimes, as outlined in Florida Statute 775.0844(3), is a plot to commit or the actual commission of a felonious crime as defined in the corresponding statutes that pertain to fraudulent practices or theft.
In layman’s terms, white collar crimes are recognized as non-violent crimes that are committed for financial profit. The moniker comes from the notion that it was typically white-collar employees, such as business owners, management, government employees, bankers, doctors, attorneys and other professionals, who were the offenders. That is the reason that these crimes have also been known as economic crimes, avocational crimes, upper world crimes, crimes of power and abuse of power.
The Fort Lauderdale white collar criminal defense attorneys at the offices of Musca Law know these crimes are handled by increasingly well-funded and capable law enforcement bureaus that have financial crimes units on both the federal and state level.
Even though nobody may have been physically injured by these crimes, the Florida Legislature will closely monitor the psychological, emotional and economic distress on the victims, especially the elderly, who are common marks. These types of crimes usually include large amounts of money and tend to be penalized more harshly than a typical case of simple theft.
Examples of white-collar crimes may include but are not limited to:
Although the majority of white-collar crimes in the state of Florida have been decreasing in frequency, reports from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement indicate that embezzlement is on the rise. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced that the total sum of arrests for embezzlement in the state was 955 in 2014, which is a 0.5 percent increase from 2013. Embezzlement among teenagers increased by 63 percent in that same year.
Even though Florida keeps track of some crime statistics, there is no individual law for embezzlement here in Florida. Instead, it comes under the broad classification of theft, as outlined in Florida Statute 812.014. When referring to employees, the statute indicates that theft by an employee has taken place when:
- The employee deliberately and illegally steals or attempts to steal their employer’s property
- The worker did so with the intention of temporarily or permanently deny their employer their right to their own property or to appropriate that property for the employee’s personal use
Embezzlement may be categorized as either petit theft or grand theft. That distinction will depend on the value of the items that were stolen.
Penalty for Embezzlement in Florida
Sentences for embezzlement in Florida differ widely because they hinge on the actual worth of items that were supposedly stolen.
- If the value of the stolen property is greater than $300 but under $20,000, the crime is a felony of the third degree. The sentence may be as long as five years in state prison, five years of supervised probation and a fine of as much as $5,000.
- If the value of the stolen property is more than $20,000 but under $100,000, the crime is a felony of the second degree. The sentence may be as long as 15 years in state prison, 15 years of supervised probation and a fine of as much as $10,000.
- In situations where the value is equivalent to or surpasses $100,000, theft by an employee is classified as a felony of the first degree. The sentence may be as long as 30 years in state prison, 30 years of supervised probation and a fine of as much as $10,000.
Those are the sentencing guidelines as described in the general theft stipulations of Florida law. It is important to observe that in the majority of embezzlement cases, the state prosecutors like to command more severe punishments for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
- The worker was put in a position of trust, which means they are able to induce serious economic harm on their employer
- Employers frequently demand steep punishments in an effort to send a strict “zero tolerance” example to their other employees
- The crime of embezzlement usually includes far greater damages than a typical theft, because of the fact that employees often have easy access to company funds
Because of these reasons, it is not unusual for the prosecution to seek extensive jail time, even for first-time criminals. Circumstances that could be considered in arranging a reduction in the charges or cutting a plea bargain include but are not limited to:
- The disposition of the prosecutor
- The punishments requested by the employer
- Whether or not the defendant has any previous criminal record
- The judge who is presiding over your case
- Any number of mitigating and aggravating factors surrounding your particular case
Extortion, more commonly referred to as blackmail, is not just a crime that takes place on TV dramas. The Federal Bureau of Prisons states that 6.4 percent of all federal prisoners are there on charges of fraud, bribery or extortion. Extortion is also a crime at the state level, outlined in Florida Statute 836.05.
Our Fort Lauderdale extortion defense attorneys here at Musca Law know that there are many components to this crime that the state will be compelled to demonstrate in order to secure a conviction. Most states define extortion as a crime against property or as a kind of theft crime. The factor of a threat of harm to a person, however, is the main component. This can be interpreted as a threat of harm to a person’s finances, physical health, employment or property.
When the crime of extortion is committed on a grander scale or is committed by an organization, it can be tried as racketeering according to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, more commonly known as The RICO Act.
What is Extortion?
In keeping with the state of Florida’s laws on the crime of extortion has been committed when somebody malevolently threatens to:
- Harm a person or damage their property or their reputation
- Blame another person of a criminal act or crime
- Publicly reveal a scandal
- Publicly reveal a confidence that affects somebody else
- Attribute an affair or another moral shortcoming to another person
With the Intent to:
- Extract money or some form of economic gain
- Force someone to do something or abstain from doing something against their will
Accusations of the forgery of documents, especially with the purpose of defrauding, is tried vigorously by both prosecutors and local law enforcement here in Florida.
At Musca Law, our Fort Lauderdale forgery defense attorneys are dedicated to helping our clients aggressively combat these kinds of allegations, or else lessen the possible adverse consequences that the crime will have on their life as much as possible.
Due to the fact that a conviction for forgery usually brings with it prison or jail time, supervised probation, administrative fines and a permanent criminal record stamped with a “crime of dishonesty” which will hinder your odds of getting a student loan or obtaining certain jobs, it is vital that alleged offenders retain legal counsel as soon as possible.
What Is Forgery?
The Florida statute that makes it illegal to commit the crime of forgery is Florida Statute 831.01.
The law in Florida limits forgery as the false altering, making, counterfeiting or forging of any public document, certificate return, record or attestation of any:
- Register or clerk of a court
- Notary public
- Public Register
- Public official
- Town clerk
In these instances, there has to be a connection to a circumstance where that attestation, certificate, document or return would have been accepted as a valid form of legal documentation.
Forgery may also involve falsely forging, making, counterfeiting or altering records or documents that have to do with a:
- Letter of attorney
- Writing obligatory
- Insurance policy
- Bill of exchange or promissory note
- Bill of lading
- Acquittance, order, or discharge for money or other property
- Acceptance of a bill of exchange or promissory note for the payment of money
- Any receipt for money, goods, or other property
- Any pass or ticket or other proof of transportation given out by a common carrier
In these instances, the offender has to have had acted with the purpose of injuring or defrauding someone else in order to be found guilty of forgery. Even though the state has to establish that the offender had the explicit intention of injuring or defrauding, it is not essential to demonstrate that the victim was really defrauded or injured in order to secure a conviction.
Some cases of a few of the most frequently-forged documents include but are not limited to:
- Historical papers
- Checks (these are different than Florida Statute 832.05, which deals individually with worthless checks)
- Credit card statements
- U.S. Treasury checks
- Traveler’s checks
- Identification cards
- Deeds to property
- Legal contracts
- Money orders
- Objects of art
- Legal records, including marriage and birth certificates
The crime of identity theft is considered to have taken place when someone unlawfully gets a hold of another person’s private information and uses that information to commit theft or fraud.
The phrase is commonly confused with “credit card fraud,” but the two offenses are their own separate crime. Credit card fraud may potentially be a type of identity theft, but identity theft is usually far more intricate, with the overall list of offenses stretching out over a longer stretch of time.
At Musca Law, our Fort Lauderdale identity theft defense attorneys know that these cases are usually meticulously put together by law enforcement officers and furiously tried by the state. The rapidly growing popularity of this offense is prompting judges to administer severe sentences upon conviction. An accomplished defense attorney who is well-versed in identity theft law and experienced in trial proceedings and plea deal negotiations is crucial for any person who is looking at either state or federal charges.
Defining Identity Theft
The crime of identity theft includes using someone else’s private information without their approval. Frequent marks for identity theft include but are not limited to:
- Full name
- Home or work address
- Home, cell, or work telephone number
- The date you were born
- Your mother’s maiden name
- Driver’s License Number from official state ID
- Passport number from government issued passport
- Any credit card data
- Copies of checks
- Hard drives and/or laptop computers
- Federally issued social security number
- Personal checking or savings account information
- E-mail address and password
- Other online account usernames and passwords
- Employer information or your personal Taxpayer Identification Number
- SNAP, Medicaid, or Medicare account number
- Personal medical records
Whereas credit card theft involves stealing a credit card number and immediately making many fraudulent purchases, identity theft involves using personal data to obtain access to a new credit card account, get a fake ID or steal yearly tax refunds. Identity theft includes a much broader spectrum of behaviors and normally causes much greater losses for the alleged victim than basic credit card theft.
There are both federal and state laws under which offenders of this law are able to be charged.
It is also important to understand that the state of Florida has an additional statute that commands supplementary punishments for anybody who has fraudulently used the private information of someone who is under 18 years of age without the permission of their parent(s) or a legal guardian. Please note that even parents and legal guardians have the ability to be charged for the fraudulent use of a minor’s personal identity. It is classified as a felony of the second degree and can be punished by as long as 15 years in state prison.
If you or a loved one find yourself facing any of the above mentioned charges, don’t hesitate to contact our Fort Lauderdale office today at (954) 302-5391 to schedule a free initial case consultation with one of our highly-qualified criminal defense attorneys.