Tampa White Collar Crime Lawyers
Criminal Charges for Business & Financial Offenses
White collar crime refers to nonviolent, financially motivated crimes. Many white collar crimes and fraudulent schemes are committed by "white collar" professionals or by people who work for a government agency, but not all of them. Some of the people who commit white collar crimes, such as counterfeiting or identity theft, do not wear a suit and tie to work as the term implies. Still, white collar charges are often brought against certain kinds of defendants.
White collar charges are often brought against:
- Doctors (insurance fraud)
- Fund managers
- Corporate executives
- Business managers
- Loan officers
- Other professionals
Because white collar crime often involves accusations against people in positions of public trust or against well-known public figures, white collar charges can attract serious media attention. Once convicted of betraying the public, a defendant may never recover their career or rebuild their lives. That’s why people under investigation for white collar charges must speak with an attorney as soon as possible—even before they’ve been formally accused.
Are you facing an investigation or charges for any type of white collar crime? Our firm may be able to help. We've served Tampa and all of Florida for nearly 20 years, helping thousands of clients avoid the serious repercussions of criminal charges and convictions.
For a free and confidential case evaluation, give us a call at (813) 321-7323.
Aggressive Defense from Our Tampa White Collar Firm
At Thomas & Paulk, we aggressively defend clients who are facing charges involving business, financial, and political crimes. If our Tampa white collar crime attorneys take on your case, we will work tirelessly to challenge the prosecution's evidence against you, questioning the validity of how it was obtained and working to make sure it cannot be used against you in trial. Our goal is to achieve the best outcome possible in your case, which could mean dropped charges altogether.
Fraud - Not Charged or Arrested
Our client was accused of defrauding the government and was looking at a felony charge with up to a five-year prison sentence. We spoke to the State Attorney before they filed charges. Because we contacted them early, our client was not charged or arrested. Our office was able to arrange repayment of disputed funds, and our client has no record.
Because accusations of bribery, extortion, or other white collar crimes are dissected by the media, you need an attorney who has experience resolving these cases discreetly and quickly. A good defense lawyer isn't just your advocate in court, but in every arena you're under attack. That may include your workplace, the media, and even your family life. Thomas & Paulk, P.A. has the experience and track record to defend every part of your life, legal or otherwise.
Common White Collar Charges in Florida
Often, white collar crimes are committed by educated professionals who are in a position of influence and power, and due to the complex nature of some crimes, the crimes themselves can be difficult for government agencies to prove. However, once the state has enough evidence, white collar crimes come with decades of prison time and millions in fines (depending on the charge).
White collar crimes include:
- Embezzlement: The misappropriation of funds. This occurs when someone in a position of trust (like a manager or accountant) begins to redirect or take the money for personal gain. Due to the nature of the crime, this can often occur for long periods of time without detection.
- Extortion: Also called blackmail, it involves obtaining property or goods from another individual through unethical means. This may include force, threats of violence, fear, or through the impersonation of officials.
- Fraud: An umbrella term that defines any form of a fraudulent act. Fraud can be anything from counterfeiting to forgery. Some frequent targets of fraud include taxes, banks, mail, and the Internet. Penalties vary depending on the circumstances.
- Insider Trading: Involves leaking information regarding a company's stocks and value for the purpose of selling the information or notifying an individual who can take advantage of the information on their behalf. Conviction comes with up to 20 years in prison and $5 million in fines.
- Tax Evasion: When people or companies act fraudulently to reduce or evade paying taxes. Citizens are required by law to pay federal and state taxes. While many people will take actions to reduce the amount they need to pay, they will face federal charges for tax evasion.
- Import/Export Crimes: Includes lying about the contents of a crate, false claims on import/export forms, smuggling, and importing other illegal substances such as drugs or stolen vehicles. Import/export crimes are federal crimes and can often include severe penalties for conviction.
- Money Laundering: Money laundering is the act of passing illegitimately earned funds through a legitimate entity to mask their origin. Defendants may be accused of laundering money to hide profits from theft, robbery, tax fraud, drug sales, or more.
- Public Corruption: Charges of public corruption can include a variety of different actions, including bribery, embezzlement of government funds, fraud, extortion, or many others. Public corruption is a federal crime and will be prosecuted at the highest, harshest levels the law can bring to bear.
The following are additional examples of white collar crimes:
- Bank fraud
- Money laundering
- Securities fraud
- Check fraud
- Identity theft
- Healthcare fraud
- Insurance fraud
- Bankruptcy fraud
- Government fraud
White collar crimes, especially those committed by professionals often involve a series of sophisticated, highly complex transactions. Because of their complex nature, whistleblowers can be very helpful to the government agencies that investigate and prosecute the internal crimes committed within some of America's largest companies.
Penalties for Bribery Charges in Tampa, FL
One of the most common white collar criminal charges is “bribery.” Under Florida law, bribery is the act of offering, promising, or agreeing to an exchange of money, services, or goods for influencing a public official's decision or performance of their duty.
For example, “kickbacks” are a form of bribery. Like bribes, kickbacks occur when an official is offered a reward in exchange for someone’s desired outcome. Kickbacks might help a person obtain knowledge they aren’t supposed to have, place them in a position of influence, or help them obtain a contract.
As a second-degree felony, penalties for a bribery conviction in Florida include:
- Up to 15 years in prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Irreparably damaged reputation
Who Investigates & Prosecutes White Collar Crimes?
The FBI, the SEC, and IRS are just a few of the federal agencies that may investigate white collar crimes. Are all of these offenses prosecuted on the federal level? Not necessarily. White collar crimes are criminalized and prosecuted under both state and federal legislation, with the penalties generally being stiffer if prosecuted in the federal court system.
Identity theft, for example, is illegal under both state and federal law. As a state offense, the "criminal use of personal identification information" is criminalized under Sec. 817.568. So, in Florida, identity theft can be prosecuted as a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
On the federal level, identity theft is criminalized under 18 U.S. Code Sec. 1028. The punishment for identity theft under federal law is a fine and up to 20 years in prison.
If a Florida resident is facing identity theft charges, which are illegal under both state and federal law, the state and federal prosecutors will decide whether the defendant should be prosecuted in state or federal court. If the facts of the case are serious enough or involve a large amount of money, there is a strong possibility that the defendant will be prosecuted in federal court.
One of the Most Famous White Collar Crimes
One of the most notorious white collar criminals is Bernard Madoff, whose massive fraud scheme cost investors $65 billion. After Madoff's elaborate Ponzi scheme led to his arrest, he was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 150 years in federal prison.
In Madoff's particular scheme, he promised investors large returns on their investments. What he was actually doing was using the money from new investors to pay older investors, instead of investing the funds as promised.
Eventually, angered investors demanded their money back, and Madoff did not have the capital to repay them, which led to the discovery of his elaborate scheme and a one-way trip to federal prison.
Accused or Under Investigation?
If you have been accused of or under investigation for a white collar crime in the Tampa area, you could be facing state or federal charges. Due to the severity of your situation, you NEED a defense attorney who handles state and federal criminal defense. Call Thomas & Paulk, P.A. to work with a team of former prosecutors who practice in the state and federal courts!
If you would like to learn more about how we can step up to fight for you, contact us!
You may know nothing about the criminal system and may be confused on what to do next. You need an attorney who can guide you through the entire process.
You won't be able to look into all the possibilities alone. We're well-versed in criminal law and can provide you with a strong strategy to turn the odds in your favor.
We've been working in the courts for a long time and have developed positive relationships with all the people you may face, which can help improve your chances.
Building a Case
Unlike a prosecutor, your criminal defense attorney can spend the time to build a strong case to help get your charges dismissed or your penalties reduced.