spacer-blue-long-01

What is Considered a White Collar Crime?

spacer-blue-long-01

White collar crime refers to financially motivated, non-violent criminal activity committed by professionals, typically employed in government or the business industry. Unlike blue-collar crime, which revolves around physical force or threats, white collar crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or breach of trust. 

The attorneys at Buda Law have established a strong reputation for navigating the criminal justice system and defending those accused of some of the most serious crimes, including white collar crime cases. With a deep understanding of federal and state laws, Buda Law provides comprehensive legal solutions to individuals and corporations facing such unique and challenging legal situations. Contact the Tampa white-collar crime attorneys at Buda Law by calling (813) 322-2832 or reach out online to begin crafting your legal strategy today. 

White Collar Crime Definition

White collar crime encompasses a range of non-violent offenses typically committed in commercial situations for financial gain. This category of crime, distinguished by the absence of physical force, involves deceit, fraud schemes, or breach of trust rather than direct acts of theft or violence. 

White collar crime has evolved since its coinage in 1939 by sociologist Edwin Sutherland. White collar crimes differ from other types of criminal activity due to their sophisticated nature, involving complex methods of concealment and the exploitation of professional or occupational roles. 

Over the years, white collar crimes have expanded to include a variety of offenses, such as embezzlement, cybercrime, and identity theft, among many others. The evolving nature of white collar crimes reflects the changing landscape of modern business and technology.

Types of White Collar Crimes in Tampa

Types of White Collar Crimes

White collar crimes, driven by deceit and abuse of trust, encompass a broad spectrum of criminal offenses. Common white collar crimes like fraud, embezzlement, and an array of cybercrimes all involve fraudulent schemes aimed at financial gain, reflecting these financial crimes’ intricate and deceptive nature. 

Below, our Tampa criminal defense attorneys at Buda Law explore these various forms of white collar crimes, highlighting their unique characteristics and their legal challenges.

Fraud 

Fraud crimes manifest in various forms, each tailored to exploit different sectors for illicit financial gain. Some examples of fraud schemes include: 

  • Securities Fraud: Involves deceptive practices in the trading of securities (stocks, bonds, etc.), such as manipulating stock prices, providing false information to investors, or insider trading.
  • Mortgage Fraud: This fraud includes any false information provided to obtain, modify, or refinance a mortgage loan. It often involves inflating property values or fabricating borrower information.
  • Corporate Fraud: Encompasses illegal activities within corporations, including falsifying financial statements, manipulating stock prices, hiding liabilities, and misleading investors or auditors.
  • Health Care Fraud: Involves fraudulent practices within the healthcare system, such as billing for services not rendered, overcharging for services, or billing for a more expensive service than the one provided (known as “upcoding”).

Embezzlement

Embezzlement is a white collar crime where an individual, typically in a position of trust or responsibility, illegally takes or misappropriates funds or property entrusted to their care. Unlike other Tampa theft crimes, where property is taken without permission, embezzlement involves the unlawful redirection or use of resources that are legally accessed but misused for personal gain. 

In corporate or employment settings, embezzlement can range from small-scale misappropriation of company funds to large-scale diversion of financial assets. The act is characterized by its covert nature and the betrayal of trust, often involving sophisticated methods to conceal illicit activity over time.

Money Laundering

Money laundering is the process of making illegally obtained funds (often from criminal activities like drug trafficking or terrorism financing) appear legal. The primary goal of money laundering is to conceal the origin of these funds, making them seem as if they have been derived from legitimate sources. 

This process typically occurs in three stages: placement (introducing the illicit money into the financial system), layering (conducting a complex series of financial transactions to confuse the audit trail and sever the link with the original crime), and integration (reintroducing the laundered money back into the economy as legitimate funds). By doing so, criminals aim to evade detection from law enforcement officials and enjoy their profits without legal repercussions. 

Bribery and Corruption

Bribery and corruption generally entail the exchange of money, goods, or services to sway the decisions of someone in a position of authority or power. Bribery is the act of offering, giving, receiving, or requesting something valuable to influence the actions of a person in a key role, often found in government or business environments. Corruption includes bribery and other dishonest or fraudulent behaviors by individuals in influential positions, typically characterized by the misuse of entrusted power for personal benefit.

Insider Trading

Insider trading occurs when individuals with privileged access to confidential, significant information about a publicly traded company engage in buying or selling its stocks or securities. This practice unfairly skews the financial markets, enabling these insiders to make profits or evade losses using knowledge that is not accessible to the wider public. Such insider information could include forthcoming mergers, acquisitions, crucial financial disclosures, or other major corporate developments. This kind of trading creates an unequal playing field in the market, leveraging undisclosed information for personal gain.

Tax Evasion

Tax evasion is an illegal practice committed to avoid tax payments, including declaring less income than actually earned, exaggerating deductions, concealing funds in offshore accounts, or participating in deceitful financial reporting. It differs from tax avoidance, which legally exploits the tax system to minimize payable taxes. Tax evasion involves dishonesty and hiding of information to avoid tax responsibilities. Such acts deprive governments of due revenue and unfairly burden honest taxpayers by skewing the distribution of tax obligations.

Cybercrimes

Cybercrimes are criminal activities executed digitally, primarily over the internet or computer networks. These sophisticated crimes range from identity theft and online fraud to cyberstalking and the distribution of illegal digital content. These white collar criminals often employ advanced technologies to breach secure networks, steal personal or financial data, or disrupt digital operations. 

Identity Theft

Identity theft, a white collar crime, occurs when an individual’s personal information is used without authorization to commit fraud or other illegal activities. Examples of identity theft include the unauthorized use of someone’s name, Social Security number, or credit card information, typically for financial gain, unauthorized account access, or to carry out illicit transactions. The repercussions of identity theft often have lasting effects on the victim’s credit score and reputation, potentially causing difficulties in obtaining loans, employment, or housing in the future.

Ponzi Schemes

Ponzi schemes are financial crimes committed through fraudulent investment operations. Ponzi schemes, named after Charles Ponzi, promise high returns from fraudulent investment operations. Instead of earning genuine profits, returns for early investors are paid with the capital from new investors. These schemes depend on a continuous influx of new investments and collapse when this influx slows, resulting in the inability to meet the promised returns. Characterized by deceptive practices that create the illusion of a profitable business, a Ponzi scheme ultimately leads to substantial financial losses for investors when they inevitably fail, as they operate by merely circulating funds without legitimate business activities.

Intellectual Property Theft

Intellectual property theft occurs when someone unlawfully uses, copies, or disseminates another’s intellectual assets, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. This form of white collar crime covers various activities, ranging from counterfeiting trademarked products to illegal piracy of films and software. In the digital era, safeguarding intellectual property rights has become increasingly difficult due to the ease with which digital materials can be accessed and duplicated.

Tampa White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney

Penalties for White-Collar Crimes in Florida

In Florida, the legal consequences of committing white collar crimes can be severe, ranging from hefty fines to significant prison sentences. White collar criminals can face either misdemeanor charges or felony penalties depending on the seriousness of the offense and their criminal history. 

An individual charged with a first-degree misdemeanor for a white collar crime can face up to one year in prison and be required to pay $1,000 in fines. A second-degree misdemeanor white collar charge can result in up to two months in jail and $500 in fines. 

Felony penalties for white collar crimes in Florida are much more severe and can result in the following sentences:

  • First-Degree Felony: 30 years to life in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
  • Second-Degree Felony: Maximum 15-year prison sentence and $10,000 in fines
  • Third-Degree Felony: Up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. 

In addition to state-level penalties, individuals involved in white collar crimes may also face federal charges, especially in cases involving securities fraud or crimes that cross state lines. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforces federal laws against white-collar crimes related to the financial markets, such as insider trading and securities fraud. Penalties under federal law can be particularly severe, including longer prison sentences and larger fines. 

Defending Against White Collar Crime Allegations

Defending against white collar crime allegations requires a sophisticated and strategic approach. Tampa criminal defense attorney Andrew Buda is pivotal when navigating this complex legal landscape. Using a tailored approach to defending clients, his defense strategy involves meticulously examining the prosecution’s evidence, identifying weaknesses in the case, and challenging the legal and factual basis of the charges. With an in-depth understanding of state and federal laws and insight into financial and corporate regulations, attorney Andrew Buda can provide a robust defense. 

Whether negotiating for reduced sentences, arguing for dismissal of charges, or seeking acquittal, Andrew Buda’s approach is focused on safeguarding his clients’ rights and achieving the most favorable outcome.

White Collar Crimes in Tampa

Charged With a White Collar Crime in Tampa? Call Buda Law For a Free Consultation Today

If you’re facing white collar charges in Tampa, acting quickly and seeking experienced legal advice is crucial. Understanding the gravity of your situation, Buda Law provides a free consultation to discuss your case, offering insight and guidance on the best course of action. Buda Law is your ally in these challenging times with a deep commitment to defending your rights. Don’t let the weight of these allegations overwhelm you. Call Buda Law at (813) 322-2832 for the support and legal representation you need.