White Collar Crimes
Many people consider white collar crime something that only happens in large companies. But white collar crime is far more. White collar crimes, also called business crimes, include fraud, healthcare fraud (stealing from hospitals, doctors and insurance companies), bribery, insider trading, embezzlement, computer crimes and forgery. Contact a Philadelphia lawyer at the firm of The Zeiger Firm because we understand the many state and federal laws that apply to these cases, and we will zealously investigate and defend you against the charges. With aggressive investigation and lawyering, our attorneys will try to convince the authorities to drop and dismiss cases at their inception. When cases do go forward, our criminal defense attorneys will aggressively and zealously defend you against these charges:
Bribery – Bribery involves wrongfully influencing public officials through payment – or promises or payment – of cash, favors, other services, or any other type of valuable offering. A common bribery scenario involves someone offering to pay a politician to vote for or against a law that is favorable to the briber. Bribes can happen at all levels of government – whether it involves a presidential candidate dropping out of a race or a regulatory official overlooking infractions. A bribe does not have to be accepted for you to face criminal charges, as an attempt is enough to secure a criminal conviction. Bribery cases involving players in the judicial system – such as attorneys, jurors, witnesses, or judges – are viewed as particularly egregious.
Bribery charges can be brought under Pennsylvania state law or federal law and it is important that your attorney knows how to defend against these charges. Defenses can include a lack of intent, 4th Amendment violations, discrediting witnesses, and showing that your actions did not amount to actual bribery under the law. In some cases, you may have tried to persuade a public official in your favor but you never actually committed bribery. Our attorneys will review the allegations against you and develop a defense strategy to fight against your charges.
Computer Crimes – There is a wide range of criminal offenses that can be committed using a computer or computer software. These crimes can vary significantly and the charges and possible penalties in a case will depend on the specific circumstances and allegations against you. There are many different federal laws and Pennsylvania state laws that make various computer-related activities illegal and the elements differ for each of these crimes. It is imperative that your attorney closely examines whether the evidence against you meets all elements of your specific charge.
Some examples of computer crimes in Pennsylvania include the following:
- Using a network or internet to commit a crime (cybercrimes)
- Cyberbullying or online harassment
- Online stalking
- Information theft
- Identity theft
- Virus contamination
- Online child pornography
As you can imagine, the evidence in a hacking case will differ substantially from evidence in a child pornography case, as will the charges and sentences. Many computer crimes fall under the fraud or theft categories and, therefore, the penalties may depend on the value of assets or property stolen. On the other hand, a child pornography charge can result in sex offender registry and other consequences unique to sex crimes. No two computer crime cases are the same and you need a defense law firm that will provide the individualized attention that your case requires.
Embezzlement – Embezzlement involves taking money or property without the necessary permission, however, this offense differs from a traditional stealing charge because it also involves the breach of trust. Embezzlement occurs when another party has entrusted you with the handling or temporary possession of money or property and you choose to wrongfully take that money or property for yourself. This offense requires a fiduciary duty between you and the property owner that was breached when you intentionally and fraudulently misappropriated the property.
There are many types of embezzlement schemes that may involve a wide variety of property. The following are only some examples of embezzlement allegations:
- A cashier takes a dollar from certain cash sales
- An accountant falsifies the books in order to take company funds
- An investment broker keeps client money instead of investing it
- A caretaker who writes checks for a family member writes checks for themselves without justification
These cases can involve $50 or millions of dollars depending on the scope of the scheme and the penalties are often directly tied to the value of the property that was embezzled. In addition to fines and jail time, an embezzlement conviction may lead to restitution payments to victims and may disqualify you from working in positions that involve money or trust.
Forgery – Forgery is a criminal offense that can involve different actions, including creating a fictitious document or monetary instrument, altering a document or financial instrument without the authority to do so, or presenting a forged document or monetary instrument for fraudulent exchange or payment. Often, forgery is associated with signing someone else’s name on a check and using it for payment, however, forgery can include many additional scenarios. For example, signing any legal contract without permission may constitute forgery.
The charges you can face for forgery will vary depending on the type of instrument that was allegedly forged. The least serious forgery charges are still serious, as you can face first-degree misdemeanor charges for forging a personal check or another non-official document. Many people think misdemeanors are not serious, however, a first-degree misdemeanor can mean a fine up to $10,000 and up to five years behind bars. If you are accused of forging a legal contract, deed, will, or similar instrument, you can face third-degree felony charges. The most serious forgery charge is a second-degree felony and applies to forgery of government currency, stamps, securities, bonds, stocks, and property or business ownership documents. This charge can result in up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. As you can see, forgery charges can be very serious and whether you are accused of passing a bad check or printing forged money, you need qualified defense representation immediately.
Fraud – Fraud is a term that encompasses many different criminal acts. Such acts involve deceiving another party to cause harm to them. Such harm can involve wrongfully obtaining money or property, damaging a reputation for personal gain, and more. Fraud can be committed in many, many different ways and can involve in-person communications, the internet, mail, text messages, phone calls, and more. You can be accused of committing fraud against an individual neighbor, someone you have never met, or a large corporation or government agency.
Fraud convictions often mean jail time, fines, and repayment of any funds that were allegedly taken. This type of conviction can also affect your professional life, as you may lose professional licenses and job opportunities as a result. For this reason, it is essential to have a strong defense to avoid a conviction whenever possible. While the defenses available in a fraud case will depend on the type of fraud alleged and the circumstances of the situation, a defense may often assert that you had no intention of committing fraud and were unaware you were presenting false information. Your attorney can discuss your individual defense strategy after evaluating the evidence in your case.
Healthcare Fraud – Healthcare is a major industry in the United States and involves trillions of dollars each year. This also gives people an opportunity to try to defraud players in the healthcare system to wrongfully gain money for themselves. Any type of such fraud is against the law in Pennsylvania and federal law specifically addresses healthcare fraud that affects Medicaid, Medicare, or another type of government healthcare payment program. These offenses can have severe penalties and the cases can be complicated and involve complex fraud schemes.
Many different people can be accused of healthcare fraud including doctors, insurance companies, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, hospitals, pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies, and more. Some healthcare fraud allegations include:
- Billing for medical services never provided
- Billing for a service as covered when it is non-covered
- Providing false information regarding the type of service rendered, the location of the service, or the date of the service
- Waiver of copays or deductibles
- False reporting of procedures or diagnoses
- Bribery, kickbacks, and other forms of corruption
- Issuing prescription drugs that are inappropriate or unnecessary
- Over-utilizing certain medical services
A conviction of healthcare fraud can result in federal prison time, fines, the loss of professional licensure, and other serious consequences.
Securities Fraud – Both the federal government and the Pennsylvania state government have securities commissions that enforce laws against securities fraud. Securities fraud is commonly investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and prosecuted by federal authorities in federal court, so it is critical to seek help from a lawyer who has experience with the federal justice system.
There are many types of fraudulent schemes and acts that can constitute securities fraud, including:
- Insider trading
- Ponzi schemes
- Microcap fraud
- Commodity futures fraud
- False information released by a company
Some securities fraud schemes are smaller in scale while others can involve millions of dollars and cause harm to many different investors. For example, if a company withholds information or misrepresents the true financial state of the corporation to investors, this fraud can induce investing that can harm investors. The SEC requires companies to provide certain types of information and avoid misrepresentations and violations of these laws can result in criminal charges for anyone involved.
The penalties for a securities fraud conviction can be severe and can become harsher the more extensive the scheme and resulting damage. If you have been accused of securities fraud, defending against such charges and penalties can be complicated and you need a qualified Pennsylvania and federal defense lawyer on your side.
Insider Trading – There are numerous laws in the U.S. regulating the stock markets and public trading is supposed to be open and fair for all investors. All too often, however, someone who owns or works for a company may learn of information that has not yet been made public that could give them an advantage in buying or selling securities. If that person acts on that information, they could be accused of insider trading.
Authorities in the U.S. take insider trading very seriously and inside traders often face time in federal prison. In one of the most highly-publicized insider trading cases in recent years, celebrity Martha Stewart spent time in federal prison due to an insider trading conviction. Authorities pursue these cases aggressively, however, there are ways that the right defense lawyer can fight against such charges and the penalties that may come with a conviction.
The above are only some of many examples of offenses considered to be white collar crimes. Just because these offenses are nonviolent does not mean that they are not treated extremely seriously by state and federal authorities alike. It is absolutely critical for individuals facing white collar allegations to have an attorney with extensive experience handling these often complicated cases.
It is important to recognize that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies, have assembled teams of investigators and prosecutors who handle these cases. To fight these charges, you need defense attorneys who have handled these cases, understand the nature of the charges, and how to fight them.
The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania white collar criminal defense lawyers at The Zeiger Firm know the laws, rules, and procedures necessary to defend clients involved with the wide range of crimes often known as white collar crimes, and we fight to obtain the best results for our clients. We advocate zealously, never forgetting that our most important goal is obtaining the best results for our clients, whether that means fighting procedural battles or representing our clients before a judge or jury. We work hard for our clients, explaining their options and keeping them updated on the status of their cases.
When you need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania attorney to defend you in a white collar criminal matter, contact The Zeiger Firm, who represent every client zealously in order to obtain the best results possible in each case. To arrange a consultation, please give us a call at 215-546-0340 or send us an email via the form below.
Are You Being Investigated?
If you are suspected of a burglary or stealing, chances are you will be arrested as soon as police have reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime. Evidence in these cases may include surveillance video and witness interviews. However, many white collar crimes are handled quite differently, especially at the federal level.
Once arrests are made in a white collar crime cases, others involved may destroy or conceal important evidence or may refuse to give information to authorities for fear of being implicated. For this reason, agents from the SEC and other federal agencies often mount long-term investigations before even making any arrests in white collar cases. During such investigations, agents may go undercover to obtain information or may call you in for interviews – usually assuring you that you are not a suspect. This is generally not the truth, as agents are certainly trying to gather information and evidence to accuse as many people as possible in such cases.
By the time any arrests are made, agents usually have large quantities of evidence including witness interviews, documents, bank account information, and more. This mountain of evidence may make it seem inevitable that you will be convicted, though there are ways for the right defense attorney to overcome these obstacles and help you avoid conviction.
The moment you believe you might be under investigation, your first call should be to a highly experienced white collar criminal defense attorney. Even if it seems harmless to speak with investigators on your own, there is always the chance that you will answer a question or reveal information that can be used to implicate you in the criminal scheme. With a skilled defense lawyer by your side during questioning, you can be confident that you will not have to answer any questions that may be used against you in a later case. We work to protect your rights from the very start of an investigation – even if no arrests have been made.
You should never try to face investigators on your own or handle your own defense unrepresented, even if you know you are innocent. Criminal cases and trials are extremely complicated and it is all too easy to make an error or omission that results in a wrongful conviction or penalties that are overly harsh. Call The Zeiger Firm today to discuss the many ways we can help you.
Defending against White Collar Crime Charges
There are different ways that our defense attorneys can work to protect your rights when you are facing white collar crime charges. The following are only some of the many benefits of having an experienced attorney on your side.
Challenging the prosecutor’s case – As with any type of crime, in order for a prosecutor to convict you of a white collar offense, they must prove all elements of the offense under the law. These elements will differ depending on the exact crime for which you were charged, however, one important element for all white collar crimes is intent. A prosecutor must prove that you intentionally defrauded a party or took something that was not yours. One common defense is that you lacked the requisite intent for the crime.
- You are charged with embezzlement but you believed that you had permission to take or keep the property in question.
- You published false information to the public for your company but believed the information was accurate at the time.
- You billed for medical services that were not provided by you believed that they had been provided.
- You are accused of tax fraud but did not realize the information you provided to the IRS was inaccurate.
In addition to the lack of intent, there are other legal defenses that may be presented depending on the facts of your case.
Another way to challenge the prosecutor’s case is to discredit evidence or witnesses presented. Some witnesses may lie to save themselves from suspicion or to protect loved ones. In addition, documents can be fabricated to divert attention from the true white collar criminals to place blame on innocent parties. A skilled defense lawyer will know how to identify holes in the prosecutor’s case and cast doubt on your guilt.
Upholding your 4th Amendment rights – As previously discussed, cases involving white collar charges generally begin with extensive and large-scale investigations during which significant amounts of evidence are gathered. In too many situations, evidence may be gathered in violation of your 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. Your defense law firm will examine whether any evidence was discovered and collected without a warrant and in the absence of consent or exigent circumstances. If so, we can argue that such evidence should be suppressed, which can significantly weaken a prosecutor’s case.
Plea bargaining – Sometimes, the evidence against you may be strong but there are still ways to mitigate the penalties you face. If you agree to plead guilty and avoid a trial, a prosecutor may agree to reduce your charges or request a lesser sentence. Plea agreements can often result in a much more favorable result than if you tried to fight your charges at trial. A plea bargain is not right for everyone, however, so you should never agree to plead guilty without first discussing and weighing all of your options with your defense lawyer. Prosecutors often try to get defendants to agree to plead guilty when having the right defense representation could result in a much better plea deal. You should always have an attorney negotiate with prosecutors as they are familiar with the plea bargaining process and how to obtain the best agreement possible in your case.
Representing you at trial – If you have been wrongfully accused or if the prosecutor’s case against you is questionable, you may wish to take your case to trial. While a federal criminal trial differs significantly from a state criminal trial, both have many rules and procedures that must be followed. For a successful criminal trial, you should have an attorney who is adept at pretrial motion practice, jury selection, opening statements, examination and cross-examination of witnesses, timely objections, closing arguments, and more. Developing trial skills can take a long time so your attorney should always have plenty of courtroom experience.
These are only some ways that your attorney can help you throughout your white collar criminal case. Attorney Brian Zeiger will walk you through every step of your case from the first call to a trial if needed. Our firm always keeps you fully informed of any new developments and will discuss all possible defense strategies and options with you so you.
Contact a Philadelphia White Collar Criminal Defense Law Firm as Soon as Possible
Many defendants fail to take white collar accusations seriously because they are nonviolent crimes. However, authorities know that these offenses can cause serious financial harm to others and, therefore, they often prosecute white collar defendants to the fullest extent of the law. Convictions can also affect your educational and professional opportunities for the rest of your life.
Because of the potentially severe penalties of a white collar conviction, you should have a skilled defense team handling your case as early in the process as possible. Your rights can be violated from the first police interview and it is critical to have legal representation to protect your rights as a suspect or defendant. Whether you are charged in Pennsylvania or federal court, your defense team should be thoroughly familiar with the workings of the justice system.
At The Zeiger Firm, we regularly represent defendants facing white collar criminal charges in both state and federal court. We will thoroughly discuss your options for defense and represent you in every court hearing, meeting with the prosecutor, and at trial. If you’ve been accused of a white collar crime and would like to learn more about how our defense team can help, please call 215-546-0340 or reach out online today.