Many crimes committed in the United States are considered federal white-collar crimes. All are serious and can land those convicted in prison for many years, produce huge fines, and lead to asset forfeiture in order to pay restitution to the victims of those crimes.
Our team of Virginia white-collar criminal attorneys have the skills and experience necessary to protect you from those negative consequences should you be charged with a federal criminal offense in Virginia. There are over 40 different federal white-collar crimes with which an individual can be charged. Below are some of the most common federal white-collar offenses.
The federal government has extensive resources at its disposal and has a reputation for aggressively prosecuting white-collar federal crimes. If you have received a letter, records request, or been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury for alleged participation in a white-collar crime, you would be wise to consult with an experienced defense lawyer. Having a seasoned legal team to represent you during this crucial period is your best tactic.
A white-collar criminal lawyer can act as your advocate while government investigators are gathering evidence and can protect you from making mistakes that could be damaging to your case. The sooner your attorney participates, the better they can question this “alleged” evidence and gain an understanding of the strategy that prosecutors are planning to use against you.
It is a crime to knowingly conceal assets from the bankruptcy court, or a bankruptcy trustee, with intent to keep your money away from creditors. Federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) aggressively investigate bankruptcy fraud and the penalties are severe. Non-disclosure of assets in a bankruptcy petition is bankruptcy fraud in its most common form.
However, if you unknowingly make a false statement on a bankruptcy filing, you can also be accused of this crime. According to 18 U.S. Code Section 152, convictions can produce a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to five years.
The government continues to devote more resources to prosecuting individuals and businesses for computer crime-related offenses. If you are facing an investigation or have been formally charged, it is important to retain a defense lawyer who has the resources and the willpower to fight back. Since the Internet is so pervasive in our everyday lives, many times other white collar crimes include a computer and/or Internet component. This allows the federal government to gain jurisdiction in what might otherwise be considered a state offense.
Many such crimes fall under the Counterfeit Access Device and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which is aimed at reducing computer hacking, computer fraud, and other computer- and internet-based crimes. Actions prohibited under the act include intentionally accessing protected information from US agencies or departments, intentionally damaging others’ computers, and trafficking in passwords or other sensitive personal and company information.
Identity theft has become increasingly common thanks to the widespread use of electronic payment methods and online purchases. In response to these trends, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 which makes any form of identity theft a federal crime. Many white-collar crimes have some sort of identity theft component to them, commonly involving stolen social security numbers, bank account information, and debit or credit card details. Forgery is also prosecuted as federal identity theft in many cases.
As stated in 18 U.S. Code Section 1028, federal identity theft now carries a maximum penalty of 15 years of imprisonment along with very large fines. Since identity theft is often associated with other fraud and forgery charges, it can lead to much longer federal prison sentences and heftier fines once all the penalties are added together.
These allegations are often filed along with other criminal charges. Mail fraud occurs when an individual makes false claims or representations through the US mail or any mail service with the intent to obtain an economic advantage. A common way for someone to commit this offense is by mailing, or transferring over the internet, a fraudulent bill for products or services. Mail and wire fraud charges are often filed against a defendant in connection with other white-collar crimes such as:
According to 18 U.S. Code 1343, mail fraud carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000. In cases where financial institutions are involved, the penalties for convicted participants can be up to 30 years in prison and/or $1 million in fines.
Bank fraud is another “gateway” charge that is often associated with other white-collar crimes. It is defined as the use of illegal means to obtain money, assets, loans, or other property owned or held by a financial institution, or to obtain money from a bank’s depositors by fraudulently posing as a bank or other financial institution. Embezzlement, bankruptcy fraud, and check forgery are a few of the most common crimes that can be charged as offenses associated with bank fraud.
Penalties can include fines of up to $1 million, imprisonment of up to 30 years, or both. An attempt or conspiracy to commit bank fraud is treated by federal prosecutors as the actual commission of the crime and carries the same criminal penalties as substantive bank fraud.
Misrepresentation with the intent to obtain favorable mortgage loans is considered mortgage fraud. Mortgage fraud investigations are intense and the penalties are severe. There are two types of mortgage fraud: for profit, commonly called “industry insider fraud,” and mortgage fraud committed by an individual borrower.
Though the FBI’s primary targets are those involved with mortgage fraud for profit committed by industry insiders, it is also pursued when an individual conceals material information on their home or business real estate loan application.
Money laundering commonly occurs when people or businesses engage in financial transactions in order to conceal the source of illegal monies. Federal money laundering charges cover a broad scope of criminal allegations including embezzlement, any sort of fraud, and the laundering of a drug ring’s cash. Regardless of the actual criminal allegation, money laundering penalties can be serious.
As stated in 18 U.S. Code Section 1956, a conviction carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the transaction, and possible asset forfeiture. This comes in addition to any other sentences for the crimes that involved the money laundering scheme.
Racketeering is usually associated with organized crime and the charges are commonly investigated by the FBI. Originally intended to help dismantle high profile gangs or alleged mafia members, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) investigations have become more focused against those suspected of white collar crimes. RICO penalties are listed under 18 U.S. Code Section 1963 and are the same as money laundering: a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the criminal enterprise, up to 20 years in prison, and possible asset forfeiture.
If you are a potential target for a white-collar crime, it is possible that you have knowledge of the conspiracy that has led to a criminal investigation. If there are others involved in this criminal act and your knowledge helps prosecutors build a stronger case, a skilled white-collar defense attorney may be able to negotiate a plea for smaller penalties and reduced or eliminated charges.
Whether our attorneys go to trial or accept a plea on your behalf, the decision is yours. White-collar federal criminal defense attorneys can fight to get you the best outcome possible for your case. Guilty verdicts for any federal white-collar crime will wreck your life and that of your family.
If you are the target of a government investigation or have been charged with a white-collar federal offense, our attorneys can help. Contact our Virginia law office today for a free case evaluation and to plan the strongest strategies to defend against your charges.
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