State vs Federal White Collar Crime Charges
The term “white collar crime” can be used to describe a variety of offenses ranging from embezzlement and blackmail to identity theft and counterfeiting. These types of crimes are unlawful under both state and federal law, although which court the charges are filed in depends on the specific circumstances of a case. Both state and federal white collar crime charges should be taken seriously, but federal charges tend to result in more severe penalties. To learn more about your charges and possible defenses, please contact one of our experienced white collar crime attorneys for a free case evaluation.
The White Collar Crime Victim Protection Act
Florida law specifically prohibits white collar crime-related activities under the White Collar Crime Victim Protection Act. For example, this law prohibits fraud, which is defined as intentionally misleading a person for financial gain, as well as forgery, identity theft, money laundering, and embezzlement. The severity of the penalties for being convicted of one of these offenses depends on whether a defendant was charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
For instance, identity theft is a third degree felony and so is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. However, the sentences of those who are convicted of this crime can be increased if the fraudulent activity was perpetrated against a number of individuals. If, for example, a defendant was convicted of stealing the identities of more than ten people, but less than twenty people, his or her sentence could be increased to 15 years in prison. Misdemeanor charges, on the other hand, are punishable by a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Although white collar crimes can be prosecuted by the state, charges can be filed in federal court in certain situations. Crimes that involve interstate commerce, for example, are considered federal offenses and so are tried in federal court. One of the most common federal white collar crimes is mail fraud, which involves a scheme to defraud another person or entity out of money through the use of the mail service. Wire fraud, although similar to mail fraud, can be charged when prosecutors have evidence that a person used a telephone to perpetrate a fraud. Because these offenses are so broad, prosecutors often attempt to charge state-level crimes in federal court, which can have serious consequences for defendants.
Finally, those who are accused of securities fraud for failing to disclose financial activities to investors or of being involved in insider trading will face federal penalties if convicted. Federal sentencing guidelines are usually more severe than their state counterparts and judges are often required to stick to harsh minimum penalties during sentencing.
Call Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced White Collar Crime Lawyer
Federal offenses tend to be more aggressively investigated and prosecuted than similar state crimes, so if you are being investigated for involvement in a white collar crime, it is critical to speak with an attorney who is well-versed in both state and federal law. To learn more about your legal options, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys in Miami at 305-670-9919 today.