Philadelphia White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyers
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Introduction to White Collar Crimes
The Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys of Goldstein Mehta LLC represent clients who are under investigation or charged with white collar crimes in state and federal court. White collar crime can describe a number of different types of crime, but in general, white collar crimes involve fraud or theft schemes committed by professionals and government employees. Some of the most common white collar crimes include types of fraud like mail and wire fraud, money laundering, tax crimes, and embezzlement. White collar crimes could also include other scams like Ponzi schemes, securities fraud, and insider trading. Insurance fraud and other types of theft or receiving stolen property could be included in white collar crimes. In addition to criminal prosecutions, white collar crimes could lead to collateral investigation and civil actions on the part of other government agencies and regulatory bodies.
Fraud is one of the most common white collar crimes. Various types of fraud charges, including mail fraud and wire fraud, can be brought by both state and federal prosecutors. Fraud generally involves an act of deception in order to obtain some sort of monetary benefit. Depending on the allegations, there are often defenses to fraud as the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to deceive in order to gain some sort of benefit, and our criminal defense attorneys can help. Overly aggressive prosecutors may charge a defendant with fraud in cases where a bona fide business transaction simply did not work out as expected for both parties or where the defendant merely made a mistake and did not have any guilty intent.
Access Device Fraud
Access Device Fraud is most commonly charged when the defendant is alleged to have used a stolen or forged credit card to complete a transaction in a retail establishment or over the internet. An individual could also be charged with Access Device Fraud or selling or giving away a stolen or counterfeit credit card. Finally, a person may be charged with Access Device Fraud solely for knowingly possessing a counterfeit or stolen credit card even if the person does not actually use the card.
There are many different types of securities fraud. For example, a common securities fraud charge is insider trading. Insider trading charges may be brought when the defendant is alleged to have used insider information to make decisions to buy or sell securities in violation of a duty or obligation to the company. If an executive trades based on confidential information about the company, that could constitute securities fraud.
Securities fraud can also involve seeking investment in a company by misrepresenting the company's finances or prospects for success. By convincing an investor to invest money based on false information, the company or individual could commit fraud. However, securities fraud is often difficult to prove because prosecutors must show a guilty mental state or mens rea on the part of the defendant. This means that prosecutors must be able to show that the defendant knew the statement or information provided was false. Also, it is often not a crime to engage in "mere puffery" in terms of commercial advertisements.
Additional types of white collar fraud crimes include mortgage and insurance fraud, which would involve knowingly making false statements or providing false information in connection with obtaining a mortgage or insurance policy. Likewise, providing false information or purposefully triggering the payout on an insurance policy could constitute insurance fraud. Finally, ponzi schemes in which investors provide money which is used by the defendant instead of invested are another type of common white collar fraud.
Pennsylvania's Forgery statute prohibits altering documents without permission and using altered documents such as money, checks, or credit cards in order to obtain some benefit. The statute does not criminalize merely possessing a forged document. Instead, it requires that the defendant actually have altered the writing himself or herself or that the defendant attempt to use the altered document both knowing that it has been altered or that the defendant does not have permission to use it and that the defendant have the intent to defraud or injure. The intent to defraud or injure typically means that the defendant intends to gain some financial benefit or hurt someone else in some way through the use of the forged document. Accordingly, someone who uses fake money to buy something could be prosecuted for forgery. Likewise, the person who actually created the fake money could be prosecuted for forgery. But merely possessing fake money without using it is not a crime; and it is also not a crime if you did not know that it was fake when you used it.
Embezzlement typically involves a company or government employee improperly transferring money, benefits, or some other asset to themselves from the company or agency. Embezzlement requires that the person who took the money had a duty to the company or government not to do so. For example, if the business manager of a company were to keep money received from customers and not deposit all of it, that could be considered embezzlement. Likewise, lawyers, financial advisors, and other service professionals who steal client money could be guilty of embezzlement.
Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more individuals to commit a crime. Conspiracy punishes not just the commission of the crime, but also the fact that the conspirators made the illegal agreement. Conspiracy is illegal because legislators have generally decided that people who plan crimes in advance with other people should be punished more harshly than people acting alone or who commit crimes impulsively. For this reason, conspiracy is a separate offense from the crime which the parties agreed to commit.
A person commits a conspiracy when they agree to commit or try to commit a crime or when one person agrees to help the other person with planning or committing a crime. Additionally, the prosecution must show more than just the existence of an agreement. The Commonwealth also must show that one of the conspirators committed an overt act. The overt act requirement provides that “[n]o person may be convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime unless an overt act in pursuance of such conspiracy is alleged and proved to have been done by him or by a person with whom he conspired.” There are often defenses to conspiracy, including mere presence and mere participation. Likewise, the defendant must know of the illegal goal of the conspiracy.
Money laundering involves engaging in financial transactions in order to hide the source of money obtained through criminal activities. It often involves the purchase or sale of assets so that the illegally obtained money can be mixed with legitimate source of income, making it difficult for prosecutors to determine from where the money came.
Tax Evasion is a common white collar charge which could be brought by state or federal prosecutors depending on whether the defendant is alleged to have cheated on his or her state or federal taxes. Tax evasion is typically going to involve making knowingly false statements on tax forms. For example, filing a tax form and intentionally leaving off income could lead to charges of tax evasion. Tax evasion charges require the prosecution to prove far more than just that the defendant made a mistake in connection with preparing his or her taxes. Instead, the prosecution must show that the defendant intentionally concealed income on purpose. There are a number of other ways that someone could commit tax evasion as well, such as engaging in business transactions in order to hide assets from the government.
Other White Collar Crimes
In addition to these common white collar crimes, there are other charges which could also involve a white collar element. Our white collar criminal defense attorneys also handle charges involving Theft and Receiving Stolen Property.
OUR PHILADELPHIA WHITE COLLAR CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS CAN HELP
If you or a loved one are under investigation or facing criminal charges, our Philadelphia white collar criminal defense attorneys can help. Call or text 267-225-2545 for a complimentary 15-minute criminal defense strategy session.