Have you been charged with a federal white collar crime? If you have been arrested, or if you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal officials in connection with an investigation, you need legal help, and you need it now. The federal criminal justice system differs radically from the state system in either Arizona or Colorado. Ensure that your legal representative knows the system and the law. Call Castañeda Law today for a consultation.
White collar offenses are economic crimes that do not involve violence. The evidence often consists of documents in the form of financial statements, bank records, and similar materials. And there are a host of different laws that, if violated, could land you in federal prison.
How are Federal Courts and State Courts Different?
You might assume that in the United States, one court system is much the same as another. Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are many differences between the laws and the legal systems in different states, the differences between state systems and the federal system are even more significant. Here are some of the important differences:
- In criminal cases, the pretrial and trial process in federal court is governed by the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Those Rules affect every aspect of a criminal case, from the arraignment and pretrial process, through discovery, as well as the trial, sentencing, and post-trial procedure.
- The federal courts have their own evidence rules, which control what may be admitted into evidence in a criminal case.
- Each federal district has Local Rules, which are specific to that district, and which could affect any number of issues in a criminal prosecution.
- The elements of the offenses, and the potential sentence, are governed by federal law.
Knowledge of the federal system, and how it operates, is essential to providing an excellent defense to a federal criminal prosecution.
Commonly Charged Federal White Collar Crimes
At Castañeda Law, our attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal charges, including white collar cases. In federal court, some of the more commonly charged economic crimes are:
- While counterfeiting money is the most well-known example of this offense, it is becoming more and more difficult because of newly-designed bills. Other forms of counterfeiting involve goods and securities. The counterfeiting of securities, like currency, is a felony punishable by a prison sentence of up to 20 years. The offense includes not only passing counterfeit bills and securities, but also possessing or selling them. In addition to counterfeiting financial instruments, trafficking in counterfeit goods or services is likewise illegal. Under 18 U.S.C. § 2320, a first offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
- Bank/Financial Institution Fraud. Defrauding a bank or other financial institution is a crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison. 18 U.S.C. § 1344. And “financial institution” is broadly defined to include any bank insured by the FDIC, any Federal home loan bank, a credit union insured under federal law, depository holding companies, a Federal Reserve bank, a branch of any foreign bank, a mortgage lending business, and others.
- Medicare/Medicaid Fraud. Medicare and Medicaid fraud are more common that you might expect. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1347, it is illegal to defraud any health care benefit program, or to obtain any money or other benefit by fraud or by false pretenses. Penalties can be up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Fraud in this area can consist of a number of acts, including billing for services not performed, providing a false diagnosis to justify medical tests, misrepresenting procedures performed, accepting kickback in exchange for patient referrals, and billing a patient for an amount in excess of that person’s co-pay.
- Tax Evasion. Tax evasion consists of using illegal means, usually misrepresentation, to avoid paying taxes. The most common example of this offense is the underreporting of income to the Internal Revenue Service, the overstatement of expenses, and by hiding funds and/or income, sometimes in accounts in other countries. A violation is a felony, and the penalties for an individual can be up to 5 years in prison.
- Money Laundering. Federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1956) prohibits, among other things, knowingly conducting or attempting to conduct financial transactions with the proceeds of illegal activities with intent to evade taxes, to conceal the source of the funds, or to avoid reporting requirements. The penalty is up to 20 years in prison, and a fine of twice the value of the property involved, up to $500,000.
- Identity Theft. The basic federal identity theft law is set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 1028. That statute makes it illegal to produce or transfer an identification document without authority. The essence of the offense is the use of another person’s personal data, using fraud or deception, for financial gain. The punishment varies depending upon the specifics of the case, but runs between a maximum 5, and a maximum of 30 years in prison.
- The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act provides for extended criminal penalties for an ongoing criminal operation. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1962, it is unlawful to receive income from a pattern of “racketeering activity.” Racketeering activity is defined as at least two acts within 10 years of a host of crimes, among them murder, arson, kidnapping, bribery, extortion, drug dealing, certain sex crimes, obstruction of justice, securities fraud, and counterfeiting, among many others. A RICO conviction carries the possibility of up to 20 years in prison, as well as civil and criminal monetary liability.
These are some examples of the many federal laws which deal with white collar crimes. The penalties are significant, and prison sentences are generally longer than for similar crimes under state law.
Defending Federal White Collar Defenses in Phoenix and Denver
Handling a criminal case in federal court requires knowledge and experience. The fact that you have been charged with a crime, even in federal court, does not mean that there is no hope. But the federal authorities seemingly have unlimited resources. Call Castañeda Law for a consultation and see how we can level the playing field, and provide you with the help you need.
Call (602) 560-3131 (Arizona) or (303) 386-7135 (Colorado)