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 California White Collar Criminal Defense

Do You Need a White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney in California?

The term “white collar crime” often brings to mind the Enron scandal in the 1990s or Martha Stewart engaged in insider trading. Generally, white collar crimes are illegal acts that are deceitful in nature and do not require force or threat of force. Those accused of white collar crimes are often alleged to be involved in theft or fraud, usually at the expense of an alleged “victim”. The alleged victim can claim to be harmed by losing money through various transactions or through non-monetary injury such as losing good name and reputation.

If convicted of a white collar crime, you can be sentenced to serious jail or prison time, and face hefty fines. That is why it is essential for you to hire an experienced white collar criminal defense attorney.

For over 30 years, the attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been helping those charged with white collar crimes. We can help you, too. Call us today at (877) 466-5245 for legal advice about your case or read below for more information about white collar crimes.

Why Hire Wallin & Klarich?

logosThe success of our white collar criminal defense firm has helped us achieve the highest of merits, including a 5 out of 5 AV rating on Lawyers.com, a 10 out of 10 rating on AVVO.com, and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

For over 30 years, the white collar crimes lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have helped many people like you who have been arrested for these crimes. Here are just a few testimonials provided by some of our previous clients who wanted to share their stories:

“I was charged with a felony for fraud, facing incarceration and fines. Additionally, my professional license was going to be revoked if I was found guilty. My Wallin & Klarich attorney never gave up on my case and continued to fight for me. He understood the negative impact a conviction would have on my life, and he was able to reach a compromise with the district attorney. Because of his hard work and dedication I did not have to plea guilty to a felony, and the charges against me were dismissed.”

-Withheld
“I was arrested and charged with several felony counts of fraud, forgery, and identity theft. I had been incarcerated for over two months, and needed a qualified attorney to help me out of my horrible situation. I was facing several years in prison and did not know when or if I was going to be released from custody. I am so very thankful that my family finally found a qualified and knowledgeable attorney, and retained the law firm of Wallin & Klarich. The attorney met with my family over the weekend, and came and visited me in jail the very next day. She was able to get me released from custody immediately after she appeared in court, and was also able to get several of the charges against me dismissed. I am very grateful to Wallin & Klarich for their diligent and effective representation.”

-Withheld

“I would like to take this time to thank you for the tremendous help I received from your law firm. Your professionalism and diligence during the process of my case changed my perspective about lawyers’ ethics. I realize how much you truly care for your clients, as well as how intensely you fight for their freedom. My biggest thanks to  you Wallin & Klarich!”

-D. G.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today

You can place your trust in Wallin & Klarich. Our knowledgeable California white collar crime lawyers are committed to defending your rights and your freedom. Call us today for immediate help on your case.

For more information on laws regarding white collar crimes, read below or simply pick up the phone and speak to one of our skilled defense attorneys today.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation.


 

History of White Collar Crimes

Originally, theft only dealt with simply carrying away of another’s property. This meant that there was no concrete crime of taking someone else’s property through fraud. Taking another’s property by fraudulent means did not fully evolve until the evolution of white collar crimes in the 1930s.

Today, white collar crimes typically include non-violent crimes that concern property or money that are entrusted in somebody’s possession, such as an employee, accountant, or bookkeeper. There are a wide range of white collar crimes specified under California law including theft by false pretense, embezzlement, and other fraudulent crimes.

Theft by False Pretense (PC 484)

White Collar crimes 2
Theft by false pretenses is a serious crime in California.

California Penal Code Section 484 makes it illegal for you to knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defraud another to obtain title to money, labor, or real or personal property.1

Prosecution for a Charge of Theft by False Pretense

In order to convict you of theft by false pretense in violation of PC 484, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following:

  • You knowingly and intentionally deceived a property owner by false pretense;
  • You did so intending to persuade the owner to let you or another person take possession and ownership of the property; and
  • The owner let you or another person take possession and ownership of the property because the owner relied on the pretense.

Punishment for Theft by False Pretense

Punishment for a conviction of theft by false pretense is determined by whether the offense is considered grand theft or petty theft under California Penal Code sections 487 and 488. In addition, the severity of the criminal penalties you face depends on whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

A misdemeanor grand theft conviction is punishable by up to 364 days in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. A felony grand theft conviction is punishable by 16 months, or two to three years in county jail and a maximum fine of $10,000. A petty theft conviction is punishable by up to six months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Theft by Fraud, Deceit or Trick (PC 484)

California Penal Code Section 484 makes it illegal for you to use fraud or deceit to obtain possession to money, labor, or real or personal property.

Prosecution for a Charge of Theft by Fraud, Deceit or Trick

In order to convict you of theft by fraud, deceit or trick in violation of PC 484, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following:

  • You knowingly and intentionally deceived a property owner by fraudulent representation;
  • You did so intending to persuade the owner to let you or another person take possession and ownership of the property; and
  • The owner let you or another person take possession and ownership of the property because the owner relied on the representation.

Punishment for Theft by False Pretense

Your punishment for this crime is dependent on whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor grand theft conviction is punishable by up to 364 days in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. A felony grand theft conviction is punishable by 16 months, or two to three years in county jail and a maximum fine of $10,000. A petty theft conviction is punishable by up to six months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Embezzlement (PC 503)

Punishment for Embezzlement
Embezzlement is punished severely in California.

California Penal Code Section 503 makes it illegal for you to fraudulently take somebody else’s property when you have been entrusted with the property.2

Prosecution for a Charge of Embezzlement

In order to convict you of embezzlement in violation of PC 503, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following:

  • An owner entrusted his property to you;
  • The owner did so because he trusted you;
  • You fraudulently converted or used that property for your own benefit; and
  • When you converted or used the property, you intended to deprive the owner of its use.

Punishment for Embezzlement

Embezzlement, like theft, can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor grand theft embezzlement conviction is punishable by up to 364 days in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. A felony grand theft embezzlement conviction is punishable by 16 months, or two to three years in county jail and a maximum fine of $10,000. A petty theft embezzlement conviction is punishable by up to six months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Forgery (PC 470)

California Penal Code Section 470 makes it illegal for you to use an unauthorized, false, or materially altered document with the intent to defraud someone.3

Prosecution for a Charge of Forgery

In order to convict you of forgery in violation of PC 470, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following:

  • You signed someone else’s name to a document;
  • You did not have authority to sign that name;
  • You knew that you did not have that authority; and
  • When you signed the document, you intended to defraud.

Punishment for Forgery

Forgery can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you face a forgery punishment of up to 364 days in county jail, a fine up to $1,000, and payment of restitution to any victims. If you are convicted of a felony, you face sixteen months, two years or three years in county jail, a fine of up to $10,000, and restitution to any victims.

Check Fraud (PC 476)

California Penal Code Section 476 makes it illegal for you to make, possess, pass, use, or attempt to use a false or altered check for the payment of money or property.4

Prosecution for a Charge of Check Fraud

In order to convict you of check fraud in violation of PC 476, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following:

  • You possessed, made, passed, used, or attempted to pass or use a false or altered check, bill, note, or other legal writing for the payment of money or property;
  • You knew that the document was false or altered; and
  • When you possessed, made, passed, used, or attempted to pass or use the document, you intended to defraud.

Punishment for Check Fraud

Check fraud can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor conviction of check fraud is punishable by imprisonment in county jail for up to 364 days. A felony conviction of check fraud, you face up to 3 years in a county jail. If convicted of felony check fraud, you can be put on probation for up to three years, minus any time you are sentenced to in county jail.

Health Insurance Fraud (PC 550)

Health Insurance Fraud
Health insurance fraud

California Penal Code Section 5505 makes it illegal for you to do the following:

  • Submit a claim for any sort of health care service or procedure that was not actually used by the person in whose name the claim is made;
  • Submit false or fraudulent claims;
  • Submit multiple claims for the same medical service (double-billing);
  • Bill a health insurance provider for services that were undercharged without billing for services that were overcharged; or
  • Prepare a document in support of a fraudulent claim.

Prosecution for Health Insurance Fraud

In order to convict you of health insurance fraud in violation of PC 550, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following:

  • You knew that the claim was fraudulent or duplicated or knew that a document prepared would be used to submit a fraudulent claim; and
  • You intended to defraud.

Punishment for Health Insurance Fraud

Punishment for health insurance fraud depends on the amount of fraudulent claims and how many fraudulent claims were filed.

If the fraudulent claims add up to less that $950, health care fraud is charged as a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine upon conviction.

If the fraudulent claims add up more than $950, health care fraud can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of your case. If health care fraud involving claims of more than $950 is charged as a misdemeanor, a conviction is punishable by up to 364 days in county jail and a $10,000 fine. If health care fraud is charged as a felony, a conviction is punishable by one year in county jail or two, three or five years in state prison, a $50,000 fine (or double the amount of fraud, whichever is greater).

Identity Theft (PC 530.5)

White Collar Crimes
Have you been arrested for a white collar crime?

California Penal Code Section 530.5 makes it illegal for you to obtain personal identifying information and use that information for any unlawful purpose without the consent of that person.6

Prosecution for a Charge of Identity Theft

In order to convict you of identity theft in violation of PC 530.5, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following:

  • You willfully obtained someone else’s personal identifying information;
  • You willfully used that information for an unlawful purpose; and
  • You used the information without the consent of the person whose identifying information you are using.

Punishment for Identity Theft

Identity theft can be either charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of your case and your past criminal record. If you are convicted of misdemeanor identity theft, you could face up to 364 days in county jail, a maximum fine of $5000, or both. If you are convicted of felony identity theft, you face up to 16 months, two or three years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Federal Prosecution for Identity Theft

Identity theft is also a federal offense under 18 U.S.C. 1028. The federal law is much broader than the California state identity theft law and results in much harsher punishment. In addition to the state law violations, the federal law also prohibits:

  • Knowingly displaying someone else’s I.D;
  • Knowingly transferring stolen personal identification documents; and
  • Knowingly producing, transfer, possess or traffic any equipment that will be used to produce false identification documents.

Punishment for Federal Identity Theft

If you are convicted of federal identity theft, you face up to 15 years in federal prison, a fine up to $250,000, or both. You can face up to 20 years in federal prison if you commit identity theft while facilitating a drug trafficking crime, in connection with a crime of violence, or after a prior conviction for identity theft. You can face up to 30 years in federal prison if you commit identity theft to facilitate an act of domestic or international terrorism.

Insider Trading (SEC Rule 10(b)(5))

Insider trading
Insider trading

SEC Rule 10(b)(5)makes it illegal for you to purchase or sell security on the basis of information about the security that is not readily available to the public where you had access to the source of the information.7

Prosecution for Insider Trading

In order to convict you of insider trading in violation of SEC Rule 10(b)(5), a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following:

  • You purchased or sold a security;
  • You possessed material, private information;
  • The information was not publicly known; and
  • The information was material.

Punishment for Insider Trading

Punishment for insider trading may result in civil sanctions, criminal prosecution or both. Additionally, you may be fined upwards of three times the amount of profits gained or losses avoided resulting from the trade. If you are convicted in a criminal insider trading prosecution, you are subject to a maximum of $5 million in fines as an individual (up to $25 million for a business entity), up to 20 years imprisonment, or both fine and imprisonment.

Defenses to White Collar Crimes

An experienced attorney will be able to devise a strong defense strategy on your behalf to get you the best possible result in your case. The following are common defenses that a skilled attorney can utilize in your case:

  1. Insufficient evidence: There is not enough evidence to convict you.
  2. There was no intent: You did not intend to defraud anyone. No knowledge: You had no knowledge of a scheme to defraud.
  3. Mistake of fact: You did not know that the information you provided was false and fraudulent information.
  4. Mistaken identity: There were no eye-witnesses or the true culprit is unknown because the fraud took place “behind the scenes”
  5. Non-fraudulent statement: Not all false statements are fraudulent. A false statement must be related to a material fact.
  6. No justifiable reliance: Reliance by the alleged victim on a patently absurd false statement generally will not constitute fraud.
  7. No injury: The alleged victim did not suffer any loss or injury.
  8. Illegal search and seizure: The evidence against you was obtained without a valid search warrant.
  9. Entrapment: You committed fraud only as a result of being tricked into doing so by law enforcement.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I am being charged with check fraud. If I tried to return or repay the money I had taken with a fraudulent check, am I still going to be prosecuted?

It is not a legal defense to the charge of check fraud that you returned the property to the victim. You may still be legally guilty of the crime of forgery. However, making “restitution” to the victim through your lawyer at the earliest possible time can be a “mitigating factor” which can assist you in receiving a less serious sentence.

  1. If I attempted the crime but did not succeed, can my sentence be reduced?

Yes. Under California Penal Code Section 664, any failed attempt to commit a crime that is punishable by imprisonment in state prison will result in a sentence that is one-half the prison term of that attempted crime.

  1. What if I was only in possession of the fraudulent information and had no involvement in making or altering it? Can I still be prosecuted?

Yes. Even possessing or receiving fraudulent information can bring about criminal charges if it is shown that you intended to pass or use it to defraud.

  1. What if the alleged fraud was a joke and could not possibly be taken seriously? Can I still charges?

Yes. If the alleged fraud was believed to be true and an alleged victim suffered a loss, you could be charged. However, a skilled attorney may be able to show that you had no intent to defraud anyone and you should not be convicted of the crime.

Call an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Partners 2015
The Partners of Wallin & Klarich

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges for any of the above white collar crimes, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience handling all types of state and federal white collar crime charges in California. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.


1. California Penal Code Section 484

2. California Penal Code Section 503

3. California Penal Code Section 470

4. California Penal Code Section 476

5. Caliofornia Penal Code Section 550

6. California Penal Code Section 530.5

7. SEC Rule 10(b)(5)

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