A Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Who Understands Your White Collar Case
The term “white collar crime” is a term of art and not an official legal term. It generally encompasses theft and financial crimes that rely on fraud and deception, rather than violence. In the past, people who worked in offices such as business or finance were most often charged with these types of crimes. Though the term makes them sound less serious than other crimes, both state and federal governments take them quite seriously and they can carry very heavy penalties.
If you face charges of a white collar crime, you need a skilled defense attorney who understands the complex nature of your charges. I am Marcos Beaton Jr. and I have decades of criminal defense experience in both state and federal court, including defending clients against serious white collar offenses. My office, Beaton Law Firm, is located in Miami, but I represent clients throughout Florida. I am a nationally recognized criminal defense lawyer and I understand what is at stake in these cases.
State Charges Vs. Federal Charges
Although federal laws cover many white collar offenses, state courts often have similar laws. Florida law includes an entire section dedicated to fraud charges under Chapter 817. You could face charges in either court or even both, depending on the situation. Certain laws are unique to the federal government because they involve a criminal activity that crosses state lines or involves interstate commerce, such as wire fraud. Federal offenses tend to have more serious penalties. I practice in both state and federal court and can help you understand what type of charges you face and what to expect throughout the process.
What Is A White Collar Crime?
The criminal code includes many offenses that can be classified as a white collar crime. As noted above, most include some sort of fraud, which is discussed more fully below. Other common examples include:
- Embezzlement – When many people think of white collar crime, they immediately think of embezzlement, as it is one of the more common offenses. Embezzlement occurs any time someone who has been entrusted with another’s money steals that money for their own personal use. This could include an employee, the trustee of a trust or the guardian of a vulnerable adult.
- Money laundering – Passing illegally obtained money through a legitimate business usually triggers money laundering charges. They are often tied to the original crime that
- Tax evasion – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not arrest everyone who makes a mistake on their taxes. They may first pursue civil enforcement. If they suspect that you purposefully lied on tax documents in order to pay less in taxes than you owe, however, you could face criminal charges.
- Identity theft – Representing yourself as someone else for monetary gain is identity theft and often accompanies activities such as bank fraud or credit card fraud.
Although you may only face misdemeanor charges with some of these crimes if the amount of money in question is minimal, most of these cases are charged as felonies and carry hefty fines, restitution and prison time.
The Investigation Process
A unique aspect of many white collar crimes is the lengthy investigation process. These cases often take time to collect the evidence necessary to bring charges. You may know well ahead of time that a government agency is looking into your activities. For example, if the IRS suspects you of tax fraud or tax evasion, their first step will be an audit of your tax records. In other cases, however, they may be much more inconspicuous and you may not know they have you under investigation until your arrest.
If you either suspect or know the government is investigating you, contact me right away. I can help you navigate the investigation and handle all communication with law enforcement. I will protect your rights and prevent them from trying to trap you in an incriminating statement or from convincing you to turn over information to which they are not entitled.
Understanding Fraud Charges
Some version of fraud underlies many white collar offenses. This could include misrepresenting yourself as someone you are not (i.e. identity theft) or misstating facts on an official document (i.e. tax fraud). There are many types of fraud, but some of the more common charges I see in my practice include:
- Health care fraud – If you are a health care provider or entity, you know that the health care industry is heavily regulated. Stepping outside the lines, or appearing to, is all too easy to do. Violations may include:
- Stark/anti-kickback violations
- Medicare/Medicaid fraud
- Prescription drug fraud
- Medical record and billing fraud
- Securities fraud – Securities are another heavily regulated industry. Any illegal activity involving stocks and investment funds can lead to heavy federal penalties. This can include anything from insider trading to a Ponzi scheme.
- Mail, bank and wire fraud – Though these can be distinct charges, some people simply refer to them all as “wire fraud.” These federal charges use interstate commerce in some way to commit fraud. Using the U.S. postal service to commit illegal activity is a federal felony. Similarly, wire fraud involves using the telephone or internet to commit a crime.
- Mortgage fraud – Misrepresenting yourself on a mortgage application in order to obtain a loan violates Florida law and is a third-degree felony. This could include misstating your income or lying about your employment status.
No matter what type of fraud your case involves, I can help. Before you talk to the authorities, talk to a lawyer. The sooner you contact me, the stronger your case will be.