White Collar Crimes Lawyer in Miami
Count on David J. Joffe to help you mount a potent defense
White collar crimes do not rely on threats or violence to produce illegitimate financial gain. These offenses often occur quietly behind desks or computer screens as people transfer money or property and alter or obscure financial records to avoid detection. In Miami, Florida, white collar crimes can occur in public or private organizations or be committed by individuals acting alone. Federal investigation and prosecution apply when illegal transactions involve the banking industry or actions that cross state or international borders. Penalties can be serious, and could include prison time, fines, asset forfeiture and restitution. Joffe Law, P.A. is your source for an expert white collar crime defense lawyer in Miami if you stand accused of financial wrongdoing.
Who are white collar crime defendants?
To commit a white collar crime, a person usually is in a position of authority or control over financial transactions. The scope of potential defendants ranges from a company president to a bookkeeper who skims money out of business deposits. As part of their job duties, they are entrusted with making financial decisions or performing financial transactions. Overall, people accused of these offenses tend to have professional careers in the private or public sector or own businesses. They use their specialized knowledge and access to manipulate transactions that result in their financial gain.
Typical positions held by white collar suspects:
- accountants and bookkeepers
- corporate officers and employees
- public officials and employees
- business managers
- bank officers
- financial planners
- investment managers
- nonprofit managers
- any employees with control of money
- computer hackers
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
What happens during a white collar crime investigation?
Investigations start when someone provides a regulatory or law enforcement agency with a tip or complaint about financial activities. A senior executive might detect inconsistencies in records or realize that money is missing and seek help from authorities. Federal agencies also monitor financial activities that they regulate and enforce. The Internal Revenue Service could launch a tax evasion investigation after reviewing tax filings. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission routinely monitors market trades and follows up on suspicious activity. If you feel you are about to be charged, remember: It’s never too early to consult with a Miami white collar crime attorney. In fact, the insight you will gain might help keep you from making serious mistakes throughout the investigation.
Once an agency decides to investigate a person or business, agents seek evidence. They may subpoena financial records and other documents like contracts. Search warrants may be requested to collect other records or initiate surveillance of suspects’ communications by phone or email. Agents may request interviews with any parties potentially connected to the alleged crimes. Suspects may not realize this is happening until an arrest occurs. However, federal agents sometimes send letters to people informing them that they are subject to an investigation.
If you have received such a letter, legal advice from an expert, local federal defense attorney is a priority. Counsel could inform you about your rights and help you respond to inquiries from federal agents.
Overview of white collar crimes
These offenses land within several distinct categories of crime. Defendants frequently find themselves charged with multiple forms of white collar crime or fraud. For example, embezzlement might lead to money laundering when someone tries to transform stolen funds into what appears to be legitimate income. Situations like that invite multiple criminal charges, which greatly increases potential sentences. A judge could apply penalties for each charge (count) that results in a conviction.
Bribery describes the act of giving a public official something of value in exchange for favorable treatment or fulfillment of a specific request. The offer of a bribe or the promise to provide something of value constitute the crime as well. Federal bribery charges can be leveled against Miami elected federal office holders, federal appointees or other federal officials. Bribery also encompasses attempts to pay jurors or witnesses to take certain actions.
Bribery is not limited to only giving or offering something of value in exchange for special treatment. A public official who solicits bribes from people interacting with a government agency commits a crime as well. Penalties include substantial fines and up to 15 years in prison.
Embezzlement represents a special type of theft crime because the defendant was originally granted legal control of the stolen funds or property as part of a job. A manager at a federal agency office who shifts money from the operating budget into private use would be embezzling.
In addition to federal officials and employees, federal embezzlement charges could be leveled against people engaged in business with a federal agency or using money from a federal contract. Therefore, people working for a private company being paid by a federal contract could be subject to federal charges when embezzlement occurs.
Embezzlement is not just about taking money but anything of value. An embezzler may acquire real estate, vehicles, computer equipment or even valuable confidential information that has value on the black market.
Insider trading & securities fraud
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seeks to maintain a fair securities market by barring the buying and selling of stocks based on information not available to the public. The offense takes place when someone either buys or sells a stock to earn a profit or avoid a loss after learning that the value will either rise or fall.
Senior executives and their employees within a company who have access to nonpublic information could commit this offense. In many cases, individuals in Miami may be accused of insider trading after acting on tips provided by their colleagues, friends, or relatives. Professionals, like accountants or lawyers, who have access to their clients’ sensitive information could violate that trust and make trades based on the inside information. This was the case with a white collar crimes lawyer in Florida who plead guilty to insider trading in 2017. He conducted nearly $1 million in illegal trades after gathering nonpublic information from the law firm’s database.
Conviction for insider trading exposes people to serious penalties. The law allows for up to 20 years in prison. An individual could face a fine as high as $5 million, and fines to a company could be five times that amount.
Internet & computer hacking crimes
Accessing information on a computer system without authorization is hacking. Digital intrusions may penetrate firewalls to access private files at a company or other organization. White collar professionals often know where to find valuable information or how to manipulate digital transactions to their advantage. They could steal passwords or apply decryption tools to access a database or cloud storage system.
In Miami, Computer crimes continue to emerge within the realm of white collar crime. These cyber crimes often involve stealing money or data that can be sold. Computer networks manage almost all financial transactions and contain valuable data of all kinds.
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act initially made unauthorized access of U.S. government or bank computers a federal crime. Amendments to the act broadened its powers, and now hacking of any computer could provoke federal charges.
Money laundering is the process of transforming profits from illegal activities into legitimate money on paper. This white collar offense in Miami involves the manipulation of financial records, business entities, and multiple financial transactions. These activities achieve the placement, layering and integration necessary to cleanse “dirty” money of its origins. Anyone may engage in money laundering when they want to shift proceeds into a seemingly legitimate account or piece of real estate.
Only peoples’ creativity limits the ways in which money laundering might be achieved. In its simplest form, “dirty” cash is inserted into the revenue of a cash-heavy business, like a night club, and then deposited into a bank. People might wire transfer money to a foreign country where they can set up a bank account with less scrutiny. Smugglers might move actual cash, gems, or gold to another country and invest in a business or buy a building.
Money laundering crimes and computer crimes intersect more than ever as people move money around with online bank accounts and cryptocurrencies. Peer-to-peer money transfers between smartphones enable very secretive transactions. Identity-masking software and proxy servers make the sources of these exchanges extremely difficult to detect.
Financial institutions have policies meant to deter money laundering activity or detect suspicious transactions. Employees at financial companies could be in a position to facilitate the crime or be an unwitting participant in an elaborate scheme orchestrated by other people.
Money laundering investigations may last months or years due to the number of financial records that require analysis. Conviction could result in up to 20 years in prison and six-figure fines. Get legal assistance from a white collar crime attorney in Miami as soon as possible.
RICO / racketeering
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act established criminal offenses designed to ensnare organized crime leaders. Title 18 of U.S. Code Section 1961 defines racketeering activity as violent threats, including murder and kidnapping, gambling, arson, bribery, extortion, robbery dealing in obscene materials or selling drugs.
RICO laws attach these activities to running an enterprise. Defendants charged with racketeering violations in Miami will have allegedly operated, invested in, or been attached to an enterprise engaged in interstate commerce. For RICO charges to apply, evidence of two incidents of racketeering activity must exist in association with the enterprise. The multiple incidents of racketeering establish a pattern of criminal behavior.
Enterprises that operate entirely online have been subject to RICO laws in recent years. Racketeers might run operations dedicated to credit card fraud or identity theft. Cybercriminals also attack computer networks and take them over. They then threaten to destroy stolen data or never release the computer system unless the target pays for release.
Like most federal crimes, penalties can be steep. RICO authorizes 20-year prison sentences per charge plus fines and asset forfeiture.
The crime of tax evasion arises from willful actions to avoid paying the correct amount of taxes. People who make honest mistakes on their tax filings will have an opportunity to amend their returns. However, evidence that indicates an intent to dodge tax bills merits criminal prosecution in the eyes of the IRS.
Tax evasion happens when people intentionally underreport their income or conceal assets. They may also use deductions and tax credits that they do not qualify for to reduce or eliminate their tax bills. Conviction for criminal tax evasion could result in five years in prison. Hefty six-figure fines are also typical.
White collar crime defense
The evidence in white collar criminal cases will include financial records across months or years. Building a defense strategy will require a strong understanding of complex corporate accounting records, bank transaction records, real estate records, or overseas investments depending on the circumstances. A criminal defense team may need to include forensic accountants and other experts capable of challenging the conclusions drawn by prosecutors.
Defense lawyers work to narrow evidence so that a prosecutor might fail to meet all legal elements of a crime. Intent often provides a vulnerable area within a case because people routinely engage in financial transactions without the purpose of committing a crime. Due to the complexity of many white collar criminal schemes, participants in what amount to illegal activities may have only been a cog in a large machine. A case evaluation by an experienced Miami white collar crime defense lawyer may reveal weak areas in evidence.
At times a good offense represents the best defense. Ideally, a criminal defense attorney has a chance to protect a person from an overzealous investigator well before an investigation advances to the stage of filing criminal charges.
Personalized defense near you
White collar criminal cases demand exceptional attention to detail. Every case possesses unique aspects. The white collar crime defense attorneys at Joffe Law, P.A. can provide you with a thorough case evaluation and help you forge a plan for shielding your reputation from criminal accusations. Should criminal charges occur, we have the resources to defend you at trial or pursue a plea deal that deflects the harshest penalties. Contact a lawyer at our Firm now to schedule an appointment.