phoenix white collar crime lawyers

Being charged with any kind of crime is a stressful and frightening experience. White-collar crime charges have the potential for hefty fines, prison time, and a tarnished reputation. Arizona prosecutors are aggressive when it comes to investigating and prosecuting white-collar crimes. If you’re facing allegations of white collar crime, it’s important that you take them very seriously. It’s important to have an experienced Phoenix white collar criminal defense attorney on your side throughout the process.

At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we’ve gone up against both state and federal prosecutors in defense of our clients. We understand how to defend the accused, find weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, and fight for your rights. We will represent you both in and out of the courtroom and fight aggressively on your behalf. To schedule a consultation with us about your case, please call 602-910-4040 today.

White-Collar Crime Defense

White collar criminal cases differ from other types of crimes, such as violent crimes or sex crimes. In order to defend someone accused of white collar crimes, your attorney must understand the nuances of these types of cases. A Phoenix criminal defense lawyer with our law firm will have the experience necessary to represent you for many types of white collar offenses, including the following.

  • Money laundering
  • Securities fraud
  • Accounting fraud
  • Healthcare fraud
  • Tax fraud
  • Wire fraud
  • Tax evasion
  • Procurement fraud
  • Bank fraud
  • Environmental violations
  • Internal investigations

The best way to avoid serious consequences for alleged violations or crimes is to hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Our trial lawyers have experience in complex civil litigation and criminal litigation, and we won’t rest until we’ve explored all possible defense options for your case.

What Are White Collar Crimes?

what are white collar crimes

According to the FBI, white collar crime is a term that encompasses “the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals.” They are characterized by the desire for financial gain of some sort. Even though there is usually no violence or physical force involved, these crimes have the potential to devastate whole families and companies. In many of these criminal investigations, defendants know they are being investigated early on. As soon as you are aware you’re being investigated, you need qualified white collar defense.

White Collar Criminal Cases We Handle

At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we handle a wide variety of criminal cases, including violent crimes, sex crimes, theft crimes, and even drug crimes. In terms of white collar criminal defense, the following are some of the crimes we handle.

This is a theft crime that can range from one person stealing a few dollars to a multi-person scheme crafted to steal millions of dollars. A common form of embezzlement is taking money from a company or campaign account and transferring it to a personal account. 

ARS 13-1802

Embezzlement in Arizona can be a Class 1 misdemeanor or Class 6 through 2 felonies. Convictions often lead to at least 6 months in prison and significant fines that depend on the amount of money embezzled.

Bribery, according to Cornell Law School, is the “offering, giving, soliciting, or receiving of any item of value as a means of influencing the actions of an individual holding a public or legal duty.” It is a crime to either offer or accept a bribe. 

ARS 13-2602 and ARS 13-2605

These statutes outline the definitions and penalties for bribery of a public official and commercial bribery, respectively. Bribery of a public servant is illegal in terms of offering and accepting the bribe. A violation of this statute is a Class 4 felony punishable by up to three years and nine months in prison, plus up to a $150,000 fine.

Commercial bribery offenses are considered a Class 5 felony if the amount is more than $1000. They are a Class 6 felony if the amount is less than $1000. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor if the value is less than $100.

This is a crime that involves obtaining something, such as money, through the use of threats or force. In many cases, bribery and extortion go hand in hand.

ARS 13-1804

Theft by extortion is potentially a Class 2 felony, punishable by up to 12.5 years in state prison. The only cases in which extortion is a Class 2 felony is when the offender threatens death or physical injury to the victim. A Class 4 felony charge is punishable by up to 3.75 years in state prison.

To counterfeit something, such as currency, is to imitate something with the intent to deceive someone else. Examples of counterfeit objects include money, clothing, medicine, electronics, and other consumer goods.

ARS 44-1453

Counterfeiting violations can be classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor, a Class 6 felony, or a Class 5 felony. 

This is more of a form of organized crime. It involves many different specific acts, but they are all fraudulent and extortionary. It often includes many other types of white-collar crimes, including extortion, fraud, and money laundering.

ARS 13-2314

Racketeering is either a Class 3 or Class 2 felony in Arizona. Penalties include a minimum sentence of 2 years in prison with a maximum sentence of 8.75 years.

Antitrust laws are aimed at preventing certain illegal business practices. The most common violations include trying to restrain competition and trying to acquire a monopoly. Other examples of these violations include bid rigging, price fixing, boycotting, and market division.

ARS 44-1401

For the most part, federal antitrust laws regulate these offenses. The Sherman Act and the Clayton Act work together to discourage trusts as a whole, but Arizona statutes exist to complement these crucial laws. According to the Sherman Act, there are steep fines and prison sentences waiting for those who violate federal antitrust laws.

This involves hiding the source of illegally-obtained money. Generally, people hide the money through other legitimate businesses or through foreign banks.

ARS 13-2317

In Arizona, money laundering can be a first, second, or third degree offense. Third degree money laundering is a Class 6 felony. Second degree money laundering is a Class 3 felony. First degree money laundering is a Class 2 felony. Third degree money laundering carries penalties of up to two years in prison. These terms increase drastically with consecutive or more serious offenses.

This is the illegal forging or producing of a copy of something, such as a document or signature. Forgeries generally intend to benefit the forger by making them money or accomplishing something. 

ARS 13-2002

ARS 13-2002 outlines the Arizona laws surrounding forgery. Someone commits forgery in Arizona if their actions have the following characteristics.

  • Doing so with the intention to defraud someone.
  • Falsely making or altering a written document.
  • Knowingly possessing a forged item.
  • Offering or presenting a forged object or document with false information.

Under Arizona law, forgery is usually a class 4 felony. A first offense brings the potential for up to three years and nine months in prison. Second convictions and class 3 felony forgery charges could result in more prison time. 

Who Prosecutes White Collar Crime?

In many cases, white collar crimes are handled by federal prosecutors. This is because, due to the nature of these crimes, they often happen across state lines. It is much easier to pursue criminal enforcement actions at the federal level for these cases. Additionally, many of these case types involve government investigations, internal investigations, and even congressional investigations. What does this mean for the accused?

It means that if you’ve been charged with a white collar crime, you should look for criminal defense attorneys with experience in federal criminal defense. Without experience in federal white collar defense, it is possible that your defense won’t be as strong as it could be. The criminal defense lawyers at our law firm have extensive experience with these cases, so you can rest assured that you’ll get only the best defense possible.

How Are White Collar Crimes Investigated?

Unlike other types of crime, white collar criminal investigations tend to come before the arrest rather than after. The investigation comes first, generally because the agencies investigating them have received information about a certain person or company. This information prompts them to begin their investigation to determine if any wrongdoing has actually occurred. 

The investigation usually begins with issuing a subpoena for certain documents and e-mails. Law enforcement agencies can also request a warrant for wiretapping. Essentially, the investigation period intends to build the basis of the criminal case. The investigation either results in an arrest or a notification to the person in question that they are being investigated. 

Agencies that may be involved in these investigations include the following.

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Office of the Inspector General
  • Small Business Administration
  • Department of Labor
  • Other agencies

What Are the Penalties for White Collar Crimes?

Because nearly every white collar crime is a felony offense, convictions have the potential to impose steep fines and penalties. Federal charges of this nature often involve the required minimum prison sentences, as well as high fines and even restitution paid to the victims. Federal white collar crimes also have the potential to require community service and even probation.

What’s more, is that these crimes severely damage the reputation of the accused. Potential employers, banks, landlords, and current employers will likely be much less inclined to trust someone convicted of federal white collar offenses. Because of the harsh penalties, it is important to hire white collar criminal defense lawyers with years of experience. You can’t risk your livelihood and reputation by choosing an inexperienced lawyer. The law firms you consider should have experience handling the following steps of white collar investigations.

  • Grand jury investigations
  • Federal court proceedings
  • Congressional investigations and congressional inquiries
  • Internal investigation of employees and executives
  • Investigations by government agencies and federal agencies
  • Corporate investigations
  • Investigations of private companies

Defenses for White Collar Crime

There are many possible defenses for the long list of white collar crimes. A good white collar crime attorney will be able to apply the relevant defenses in your case. Below, we list just a few of the options we might use in your case.

  • Identifying weaknesses in the prosecution’s case: Most prosecutors refrain from taking these cases to federal court unless they have a fair amount of evidence against the defendant. However, criminal prosecution is not an exact science. It is entirely possible for federal authorities and prosecutors to make mistakes during a government investigation. Your white collar crime lawyer will work tirelessly to find these mistakes and capitalize on them.
  • Lack of knowledge: In many cases, defendants cannot use a lack of knowledge as a defense. However, some cases involve many different people working together to commit one crime. If the defendant did not know the intent was to commit a crime when they were carrying it out, this could serve as a valid defense in white collar cases.
  • Entrapment: This is a valid defense in many criminal investigations. The defendant and their lawyer must prove that they would not have committed the crime in question if they had not been influenced by a government official.
  • Coercion: This involves being forced to commit a crime. For example, if someone threatened another person with harm if they refused to commit the crime, this could be a valid defense.
  • Lack of intent: If the defense team can prove that the defendant simply made a mistake and did not financially benefit from the act, they can use lack of intent as a defense. If it is not possible to prove that the defendant intended to commit a crime, the case might be thrown out entirely.

Do I Need a Lawyer for White Collar Crime Defense?

If you’ve been charged with a federal white collar crime, you need to contact a white collar criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to defend you against accusations like these. We understand that your livelihood and reputation are on the line. That’s why we will rest at nothing in our defense of your case. To schedule an appointment with us, please call 602-910-4040 today.

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