What are white-collar crimes?

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2022 | Federal/White Collar Crimes

Not all crimes involve physical violence or threats. When a person carries out a financial crime by deceiving, lying or stealing someone’s identity, they commit a white-collar crime. These crimes cause a great financial struggle for many people, and, because of this, the courts in Florida punish them severely. Depending on the circumstances, white-collar crimes can be felonies with extensive prison sentences.

The variety of white-collar crimes

The FBI details white-collar crimes as those “characterized by deceit, concealment or violation of trust. Anyone can commit a white-collar crime, but most of them are usually committed by people in business and government professionals. Some of the many types of white-collar crimes are:

  • Bank fraud: this felony of the third degree occurs when a person lies to get a credit card, uses forged checks or uses a stolen credit card.
  • Credit card fraud: a person commits this crime when they fraudulently use or obtain a credit card. Its penalties depend on the number of times the offender used the card in six months and the amount stolen. Less than two times and spending less than $100 implies a first-degree misdemeanor. More than two times or $100 is a felony.
  • Insurance fraud: this felony occurs when a person tries to get payment from an insurer by submitting a claim based on a false, exaggerated or deliberated injury or loss. The degree of the felony that a person can be charged with depends on the claim’s value.
  • Embezzlement: a person commits embezzlement when they violate their position of trust to steal money. In Florida, this crime can be from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree felony.
  • Ponzi Scheme: Ponzi schemes trick investors by promising them high-interest returns. In reality, only the earliest investors can get good returns. It is a misdemeanor of the first degree to participate in a pyramid scheme, but it can also be a felony in certain circumstances.
  • Money laundering: The law in Florida defines money laundering as a financial transaction used to conceal, disguise, hide or process money generated through legal activity. A person must know the source of the proceed to commit money laundering. This crime can be a felony of the first, second or third degree.
  • Tax evasion and tax fraud: occur when a person fails to pay taxes or deliberately underpays them. Examples of this are filing false returns, making false invoices and destroying records. This crime is a second or first-degree misdemeanor if the debtor owes less than $300. More than that is a felony.

The sentences for white-collar crimes vary depending on how much money the person stole. The more money a person steals, the harsher their punishment will be. In Florida, a third-degree felony implies up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $5000. A second-degree has the penalty of up to 15 years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. Lastly, a first-degree felony comes with a prison term of a maximum of 30 years and a $10,000 fine.

The right of defense

A criminal charge can end in a harsh sentence that can change a person’s life forever. However, a criminal charge does not always lead to a conviction, and a person accused of a crime has the right to defend themselves in court. Not everything is lost, and with the correct arguments and strategy, a person can prove their innocence and avoid the harsh penalties of white-collar crimes.