Since the federal laws governing white-collar crimes are complex and cover such a broad spectrum of situations and activities, you can find yourself charged with a federal white-collar crime without even realizing it. Financial crime allegations should not be taken lightly, and anyone accused of a white-collar crime such as money laundering or fraud should carefully consider their legal options to ensure that their case is as strong as possible.

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Find A California Criminal Defense Attorney for White Collar Claims

Our White Collar Crime Lawyers understand how traumatic a conviction can be for you and your family, regardless of the type of white-collar crime you've been charged with. They represent individuals and companies in federal courts around the country in cases involving white-collar crimes such as bribery, embezzlement, and money laundering, and can support you as well.

White-collar crime, also known as corporate crime, is a broad legal term that refers to federal criminal offenses that include fraud and are intended to generate an illegal financial gain. This form of crime is usually committed by business owners, government officials, and other professionals who have access to other people's money as a result of their careers. White-collar crimes are non-violent, financially motivated offenses committed by those in positions of authority, typically involving some kind of deception, misappropriation, or breach of trust. White-collar criminal offenses include a wide range of fraud and other financial crimes, the majority of which can result in charges being brought in federal court.

Criminal Penalties for White-Collar Crimes

White-collar crimes are usually non-violent offenses that include fraud, trickery, or misrepresentation, which distinguishes them from "street" crimes such as murder, drug dealing, and firearms offenses; but, it is this aspect of deception that makes these offenses so heinous in the eyes of the law. While white-collar crime is sometimes referred to as corporate crime, the federal government's enforcement of it is not limited to multibillion-dollar companies and Wall Street finance executives.

Individuals and small businesses can be the victim or subjects of a criminal investigation into white-collar crime, and these crimes are punished with the same vigor as any other federal offense. White-collar crimes like embezzlement and bribery are seen as a threat to the economy by the government, which is why they are usually prosecuted at the federal level and punished so harshly.

Despite the fact that white-collar offenses are non-violent, they bear some of the harshest criminal sentences under federal law due to the federal sentencing guidelines, which are a set of laws that federal judges must consider when sentencing an inmate in the federal criminal justice system. The reality is that the federal government is particularly interested in white-collar crime because of the large sums of money that are usually lost as a result of it.

If you are convicted of a white-collar crime in federal court, you can face the same fate as a convicted murderer: serving a life term in federal prison. The severity of the sentences for white-collar criminals becomes even more evident and troubling as you learn that Congress has abolished parole for violent offenders in the federal criminal justice system.

As you can see, the criminal penalties for white-collar crimes such as bribery and money laundering are very severe, and you should take these accusations very seriously. If you are convicted of such a felony, you will face not only a lengthy jail sentence and hefty penalties but also a criminal record that will haunt you for the remainder of your life, potentially impacting your ability to find work or conduct business.

If you are a professional, you risk being disqualified, disbarred, or losing your license, which is something our White Collar Crime Lawyers are dedicated to preventing. Finding a California Criminal Defense Attorney who can defend your rights and serve your best interests during the length of your case is your best course of action if you want to keep your record clear, protect your reputation, and avoid time in jail.

Building a Defense

Many people think of white-collar crimes as "victimless" crimes because they seldom result in physical harm. Federal prosecutors, on the other hand, take white-collar crimes very seriously, and if you are charged with money laundering, bribery, or another financial crime in federal court, the government will not hesitate to pursue the maximum penalty, which may put you in jail for the rest of your life.

When facing charges for a white-collar crime, we cannot emphasize enough how important it is to retain the services of a professional, respected Criminal Defense Attorney and how much better the result will undoubtedly be. Being charged with a federal crime such as money laundering is serious, and having to prove your innocence can be exhausting and intimidating.

When it comes to criminal justice, the federal government has a lot of power and authority, as well as a lot of time, money, and resources to commit to investigating and prosecuting white-collar crimes that affect financial institutions and other government agencies. In reality, depending on the type and complexity of the case, federal criminal investigations can last months or even years. We've discovered that federal prosecutors only prosecute cases they believe they can win, and the combination of these two factors makes facing criminal charges in federal court especially intimidating.

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That said, just because you've been charged with a crime doesn't mean the prosecutor will be able to prove your guilt and obtain a conviction. A defendant is presumed innocent unless proved guilty under criminal law, which means the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be accused of a white-collar crime. For the crime of money laundering, for example, demonstrating the following elements of the offense is usually required:

  • You knowingly engaged in or tried to engage in a financial transaction with the proceeds of a prohibited activity;
  • With the knowledge that the transaction was intended to conceal or mask the existence, source, control, or ownership of the proceeds of the specified illegal operation, or with the knowledge that the transaction was intended to escape a transaction reporting requirement under federal law;
  • The financial transaction has an effect on interstate or international trade.

When it comes to prosecuting white-collar offenses in federal court, showing that the defendant behaved intentionally is crucial in most cases. In general, you cannot be accused of a crime you were unaware you were committing, and if the legal team may demonstrate that you did not act knowingly or with malice, you will be able to avoid a conviction at trial.


Theft is described as the unauthorized taking of another person's money or property, and there are several different forms of federal theft offenses that can be prosecuted, including misappropriation. Misappropriation is a form of white-collar crime that involves the theft and/or abuse of money, properties, or trade secrets. When someone commits misappropriation, they take funds, assets, or trade secrets that do not belong to them and use them for their own purposes without permission. If you have been convicted of misappropriating money, trade secrets, or properties in violation of federal law, the first step should be to retain the services of a California Criminal Law Attorney.

Misappropriation is a term used in criminal law to describe the illegal act of knowingly and deliberately using another person's money or property for your own benefit or for any other improper reason. Misappropriation is a form of theft crime committed by people who have access to money, properties, or company data but do not own them. The following are the most popular forms of criminal misappropriation that may result in federal charges.

  • Funds Misappropriation

    • Misappropriation of funds is a form of fraud in which someone knowingly and unlawfully uses another person's money without their permission. Misappropriation of funds is similar to embezzlement, which is a fraudulent act committed when someone who has a fiduciary or trust arrangement with another person steals another person's money or property for personal gain.
    • An individual may be charged with both embezzlement and misappropriation of funds. A business executive accused of embezzling or misappropriating funds entrusted to him by his company or a customer and using the funds to pay for his or her own personal travel expenses or to pay off gambling debts, for example, could face charges of both embezzlement and misappropriation.

  • Misappropriation of a trade secret

    • Misappropriation of a trade secret is the illegal act of obtaining a trade secret by unethical means (e.g., bribery, stealing, fraud, or breach of a contractual agreement to keep anything confidential), which is a type of intellectual property or confidential business knowledge that is usually not known outside of the company and gives the company an economic advantage over rivals. For example, you might face trade secret misappropriation charges if you carry sensitive business information home from work in breach of your employment contract. If you publish a trade secret believing that it was obtained illegally, you can be accused of misappropriation.
    • In addition to criminal charges, 18 US Code 1836(b) allows for a civil cause of action for misappropriation of trade secrets (1). Civil cases involving trade secret misappropriation were previously regulated solely by state laws and resolved in state court. However, in 2016, Congress passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act, which allows trade secret owners to sue in federal court if their secrets are misappropriated and the trade secret is "related to a good or service used in, or intended for use in, interstate or international commerce."

  • Asset Misappropriation

    • When an employee or a third party uses deception to steal or manipulate assets belonging to an agency or entity, such as equipment or inventory, for his or her own personal gain, this is known as misappropriation of assets. If the stolen asset is currency, misappropriation of assets can be linked to misappropriation of funds or trade secret misappropriation if the stolen asset is company data or intellectual property.

What Constitutes a Federal Offense of Misappropriation?

Many cases of misappropriation are tried at the state level, but misappropriation charges may also be brought under federal court in certain circumstances. For example, if the money or property you are accused of misappropriating belonged to the federal government, you could face federal criminal charges; similarly, if the misappropriation offense crossed state borders or required the use of the internet (internet crimes), you could face federal criminal charges.

Penalties for Misappropriation of Property

Misappropriation is illegal under state and federal law, and the criminal penalties you could face for a misappropriation conviction vary depending on the nature of the offense. The primary federal statute prohibiting the stealing of trade secrets, for example, is 18 US Code 1832. This law makes it illegal for someone to "knowingly convert a trade secret, that is related to a product or service used in or intended for use in interstate or foreign commerce, to the economic benefit of anyone other than the owner thereof, and intending or knowing that the offense would harm the owner of that trade secret, to the economic benefit of anyone other than the owner thereof, with a purpose to convert a trade secret, that is related to a product or service used in or intended for use in interstate or foreign commerce, to:

  • steal, appropriate, take, carry away, or hide, or acquire such knowledge by fraud, artifice, or deception;
  • Print, duplicate, sketch, draw, photograph, scan, upload, change, kill, photocopy, reproduce, print, distribute, give, mail, communicate, or convey certain information without authorization;
  • receiving, purchasing, or possessing such information with knowledge that it has been stolen, appropriated, acquired, or transformed without authorization;
  • conspire with one or more other people to commit some of the crimes, and one or more of those people do something to achieve the conspiracy's goal."

Theft of trade secrets is punishable by a prison term of up to ten years under this statute, and if an organization commits the offense, it can be fined up to three times the amount of the stolen trade secret. Furthermore, under 18 US Code 1831, any person accused of committing this crime with the intent or knowledge that the offense will benefit any foreign government, foreign instrumentality, or foreign agent faces a penalty of up to 15 years in jail, and any company accused of committing the crime faces a fine of up to three times the value of the stolen trade secret (economic espionage).

There are other negative repercussions you could face if you are convicted of misappropriating a trade secret, in addition to spending time in jail and paying hefty penalties. Any proceeds from the suspected criminal activity, as well as any property you allegedly used to commit the crime, can be seized by the federal government.

Defending Against Criminal Misappropriation Charges

Misappropriation of funds is one of the most often investigated misappropriation offenses. In certain cases, a public official, an executor of an estate, or a trustee of trust commits the crime of misappropriating funds, but practically anybody with access to another person's money may be charged with misappropriating funds if that person uses the money for personal gain or for another improper reason.

Misappropriation is a serious crime, but proving it is not always easy for the government. The defendant is presumed innocent unless proved guilty in any criminal case, and the prosecutor has the duty of proving the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. You cannot be legally convicted of misappropriation if your counsel can provide an argument that creates a reasonable doubt about your guilt. For example, the government must show the following elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt in federal court to obtain a conviction for misappropriation of funds:

  • You had ties to the funds but did not own them;
  • You took the money knowingly and purposefully, or you intended to take the money.
  • You used the money for personal reasons or wanted to use it for personal reasons, which may involve moving the funds to another bank account.

Strategies for Defending Against Misappropriation Charges

When you're facing criminal charges, it can be stressful, scary, and intimidating, particularly when you're up against the federal government's might. However, just because you've been charged with misappropriation does not mean you'll be found guilty. An experienced California Defense Attorney may use a variety of defense tactics to counter the prosecution's case and defend you against misappropriation charges. If you're charged with misappropriation of funds in federal court, for example, your California White Collar Crimes Lawyer may be able to argue that:

  • You have no intention of misusing the funds.
  • The owner gave you permission to withdraw the funds.
  • You believed you had possession of the funds in a fair and good-faith manner.
  • The evidence for the prosecution was collected as a result of an unlawful search.
  • The prosecutor lacks sufficient proof to prove the misappropriation offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • You were under duress when you committed the offense.
  • Entrapment was used against you.
  • You've been falsely convicted.
  • You've been duped into thinking you're someone else.

In white-collar crimes like misappropriation, the motive is crucial, and if your counsel can demonstrate that you did not plan to misappropriate the money, properties, or trade secrets in question, you will be able to avoid a conviction at trial.

Money Laundering

Money laundering is a serious criminal felony with links to organized crime, and if you are charged with or convicted of it, you may face life-altering consequences such as up to 20 years in jail, hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and asset seizure or forfeiture. You need an experienced California Criminal Defense Attorney who understands federal anti-money laundering laws and how they apply to you if you have been charged with the federal crime of money laundering or if you have been brought in for questioning under suspicion of an illegal money laundering scheme, or if you are associated in any way with an individual accused of laundering money.

What is money laundering?

Money laundering is the process of concealing the source, number, and destination of money acquired illegally ("dirty"), usually through a series of banking transfers or commercial transactions with legitimate businesses. Money laundering is used to "clean" dirty money, making it look as if it was received legally in order to escape criminal investigation or prosecution for the actual criminal offense.

Money laundering also makes it impossible for prosecutors and auditors to figure out where the money came from in the first place. Unfortunately, cleaning dirty money is a felony in and of itself, and those convicted of money laundering will face severe criminal penalties if found guilty.

Money Laundering Stages

Money launderers go through three stages to hide their illicit earnings:

  • Positioning

    • The illicit funds are incorporated into the legitimate financial system in a discreet manner (for example, by putting the funds in a legitimate company where they become part of the legitimate profits of the business).

  • Layering

    • Complex financial transfers are used to pass illicit income around, conceal its source, and make it more difficult to track down (i.e., wiring or transferring the money through offshore bank accounts)

  • Integration

    • Withdrawing the now-laundered funds from an account that appears to be legitimate and can be used for something

Anti-Money-Laundering Legislation

Money laundering became a federal felony with the passage of the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, punishable by fines and a lengthy prison term. 18 USC 1956 and 18 USC 1957 are the two parts of the 1986 Money Laundering Control Act.

According to 18 USC 1956, a person or business executive commits money laundering when he or she commits one or more of the following actions with the purpose of intentionally facilitating the conduct of the criminal activity, avoiding the payment of taxes, avoiding transaction reporting requirements, or concealing the identity, possession, place, source, or control of the money:

  • Conducts or attempts to conduct a financial transaction involving money obtained through illegal activity;
  • Transports, transfers, or transmits funds to or from a foreign country, or attempts to move, transfer, or transmit funds to or from a foreign country;
  • Conducts or attempts to conduct a financial transaction involving money or property said to be the proceeds of illegal activity.
  • A person or business executive commits money laundering when he or she "knowingly participates in or attempts to engage of a monetary transaction in criminally obtained property of a value greater than $10,000," according to 18 USC 1957.

Punishment for a Money Laundering Conviction at the Federal Level

Money laundering lawsuits are heard in federal court, which ensures that those suspected of illegally laundering money may face federal prosecution and be convicted of a major federal crime. Money laundering convictions under 18 USC 1956 will result in a 20-year prison term and/or a fine of up to $500,000, or twice the amount of the money laundered, whichever is greater. Money laundering convictions under 18 USC 1957, on the other hand, will result in a prison term of up to ten years.

Money laundering can be charged as a stand-alone crime, but in many cases in California, individuals and executives are investigated for money laundering in conjunction with other criminal offenses such as bank fraud, mortgage fraud, credit card fraud, securities fraud, or drug trafficking, and when this is the case, a money laundering charge is added to the punishment for the other criminal offenses. Even if it is a secondary crime to fraud or drug offenses, money laundering is a serious criminal offense that should not be taken lightly.

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It's important to remember that a person convicted of money laundering in federal court faces these criminal penalties for each count of money laundering. Individuals facing federal charges for money laundering face asset seizure or forfeiture, which means the government can seize any property, currency, cars, or other assets obtained by or used in the money laundering scheme.

Defending Against Charges of Money Laundering

The federal government has a number of federal statutes dedicated to investigating and prosecuting money laundering offenses at its disposal, including the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, the Bank Secrecy Act, the Patriot Act, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. As the scope of anti-money laundering programs in the United States has grown, so has the number of federal statutes dedicated to investigating and prosecuting money laundering offenses.

However, just because you've been charged with money laundering doesn't mean the government can prove you did it. To get a conviction in federal court for money laundering, the prosecutor must prove any of the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You were involved in money laundering,
  • You did so with the intention of promoting or concealing criminal activity.

Money Laundering Defendants' Strategies

The trick to winning a money laundering case is successfully questioning the prosecution's facts and presenting an alternate version of events to the judge and jury that creates reasonable doubt. Since money laundering is a "real purpose" crime, the accused must have had an intention to commit the act and an intent to obtain a specific outcome in order to be found guilty, and therefore all of the specific intent crime defenses may be used in a money laundering case. In a money laundering case, the following are some potential mitigation tactics that might help you get an acquittal or reduced criminal charges:

  • You didn't do something that was against the law.
  • You were completely unaware that the funds were raised by fraudulent means (lack of intent)
  • The funds were not collected by fraudulent means.
  • Under duress, you took part in a money laundering scheme.
  • There is insufficient proof for the prosecutor to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Internet Crimes

The United States government has established strict federal laws prohibiting the use of the internet, computers, or computer networks to commit illegal acts as part of its ongoing fight against internet crime and cybercrime. The criminal penalties that accompany an internet crime conviction can be severe, with some of the most serious internet-related crimes carrying a potential sentence of life in prison. If you have been convicted of an internet crime or have been tried in federal court, it is critical that you have a trusted CA Criminal Defense Attorney by your side who can expertly navigate the federal criminal justice system and increase the odds of a favorable trial outcome.

The word "internet crime" is a very vague legal term that refers to any criminal activity carried out over the internet. Internet crime is a subset of cybercrime, which is defined as any crime involving the use of a computer or computer network, or that targets a computer. Because of the exponential growth and use of the internet, the majority of cybercrimes are now classified as internet crimes.

Internet crimes are defined by federal laws that extend to a wide variety of online activities, including emails and blogs, as well as using the internet to commit fraud or identity theft. Identity fraud, which involves using the internet to steal another person's personal information and then using that information to empty their bank accounts, make transactions with their credit cards, or acquire new lines of credit, is the type of internet crime that most people are familiar with. Internet identity theft also includes other forms of online crimes and illegal activities, such as skimming, phishing, credit card fraud, and even child pornography.

What Constitutes a Federal Offense for an Internet Crime?

While several states have laws banning internet crimes such as computer hacking and credit card fraud, these violations are more generally prosecuted at the federal level since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has authority over the internet. The federal government is primarily concerned with large-scale internet crimes aimed at defrauding people, businesses, or the government, such as money laundering and computer hacking schemes involving government networks.

Virtually any offense committed using the internet or a device, on the other hand, can be prosecuted as a federal crime with serious criminal penalties if convicted. Furthermore, since the internet can be used to spread information across state lines, which is a characteristic of a federal offense, other internet offenses such as minor solicitation and child pornography can be prosecuted at the federal level.

What is the relationship between cybercrime and white-collar crime?

White-collar crimes such as money laundering and stock fraud have become more common than ever thanks to the internet, which has also made it easier for the federal government to monitor and prosecute these crimes. White-collar crimes, also known as corporate crimes, are non-violent offenses committed by company owners or government officials to obtain financial gain by deception. Although most white-collar crimes are tried and punished at the federal level, the repercussions of a conviction are still serious.

What are the penalties for online crimes?

Online crimes, computer crimes, and cybercrime are among the fastest-growing areas of the law, and the federal government has taken a hard line against them, enforcing harsh criminal punishments on convicted criminals that may last the rest of their lives, including expensive fines, jail, probation, restitution, and community service. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984, as well as 18 USC 1030 ("Fraud and related conduct in connection with computers"), are examples of federal laws and statutes that investigate computer-related crimes.

However, since the internet is called a facility that "affects interstate or international trade or communication," this law may apply to any ordinary device. The crime of computer-related fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in jail, according to 18 US Code 1030. Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your Cal Bar Attorney Search.

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