White-collar crimes are some of the criminal offenses we deal with at Phoenix Criminal Attorney. They are a series of criminal acts that have become very easy to commit these days due to the internet. Because of their nature and the number of damages a person can suffer through a white-collar offense, Arizona law takes such crimes very seriously.
For that reason, there are stiff penalties for anyone found guilty of committing any white-collar offense in the state, which includes imprisonment and hefty fines. If you are facing charges for a white-collar crime today, it is advisable to seek the help of a competent criminal defense attorney. We have a team of attorneys who have excellent skills and experience in defending offenders facing similar charges in Phoenix, AZ. Through our competency, we could influence the court to either drop or reduce your charges, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Legal Definition of Arizona White Collar Crimes
White-collar crime is a general term used to refer to a wide range of offenses, which are all committed through fraud or deceit, with a single intent of financial gain. The most common types of these crimes include tax evasion, fraud, money laundering, and embezzlement. Most types of frauds and scams fall into this category of offenses, including securities fraud, and Ponzi schemes. Common crimes committed by people in offices and respectable careers such as tax evasion and insurance fraud are also white-collar offenses. Depending on the nature of the crime in question, white-collar crimes can include a range of violations of both federal and state laws and a wide range of possible penalties.
In the state of Arizona, white-collar crimes are as common as they are in other states across the country. They are an essential element of our society, and as long as there are financial transactions and institutions such as banks, there will always be a white-collar problem. The advent of the internet has made it easy for criminals to commit most of these crimes, and their prevalence is rising by the day.
As mentioned above, there are several types of offenses under the white-collar crimes umbrella. Each crime is unique in its sense, with a separate list of elements and penalties for convicted offenders. Sentencing for offenders is, therefore, determined by the type and severity of the offense committed. The most common white-collar crimes in the state of Arizona include:
- Tax evasion
- Identity theft
- Money laundering
A lot of people have lost vast sums of money through these offenses. For that reason, there is a public outcry for more stringent laws and stiffer penalties for offenders who get convicted of any white-collar crime in the state. It is, therefore, advisable to find a competent criminal attorney for your defense if you or your loved one is currently facing charges for a white-collar offense.
Common Types of White Collar Crimes in Arizona
Here are the most common types of offenses that fall under the umbrella of white-collar crimes in the state of Arizona:
In Arizona, laws against fraud are under Section 13-2310 of the state's Revised Statutes. Anyone that is under suspicion of having committed the offense is charged and punished harshly in the event they are found guilty of the crime. Under this law, fraud is defined as knowingly scheming to defraud another person. The offense is a Class 2 felony offense in the state.
The gravity of the offense determines the penalties an offender can get in the state for fraud. If the fraud amounts were $10,000 or more, the offender would not be eligible for probation, parole release, or sentence suspension until their court-ordered sentence has been served.
To be found guilty of Fraud in Arizona, there are elements of the crime that the prosecutor must prove before a court. These are:
- That the defendant misrepresented facts for their gain
- That the defendant was well aware that the events they misrepresented were false
- That the defendant knowingly misrepresented the facts to a person or people knowing too well that they would rely on the information and believe it factual
- That the person or people who relied on your misrepresented facts suffered loss or injury from that reliance
There are many types of fraud crimes in the state of Arizona. The most common of them include:
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud offenses are grave in the state of Arizona. A person found guilty of the crime could face serious repercussions, which could affect their lives in many ways. There are several ways in which this type of offense is committed. Some of the most common methods include:
- Using another person’s credit card short of their consent
- Receiving or possessing another person’s credit card short of their authorization
- Holding a person’s credit card as collateral against a debt the person owes you without their approval and with a plan to defraud them
- Holding onto a person’s credit card information instead of the card itself, together with their card number, expiry date and security code with a plan to defraud them
- Accepting gifts bought using a credit card or credit card information you are well aware was illegally acquired, even though you did not acquire the card or information yourself
Note that a person can still face credit card fraud charges for just possessing a person’s card or card data without their approval. The charges are regardless of whether you have not used the card or the card's information for fraudulent purposes.
Insurance Fraud, too, is a severe offense in Arizona. It occurs when data regarding insurance claims, applications, or premiums are knowingly falsified by a person or people for them to deceive an insurance firm, another person, or an insurance agent with the aim of acquiring money illegally. The offense is also committed when an individual makes several claims from an insurance provider for the same injury. It is also considered insurance fraud when the person overestimates the damages incurred with a plan to obtain more settlement than they should.
When a person commits arson to receive insurance benefits, they too could be charged with insurance fraud alongside the crime of arson. As long as something was done to defraud an insurance provider, the offender could face charges for insurance fraud.
Identity fraud is the offense committed when a person uses another person's personal information without their consent to deceive or defraud other people or to commit a crime. A person can secretly obtain another person's data through identity theft and then use that data to do things that would hurt the other person. Most identity fraud crimes are committed with the intent to gain a financial advantage over the other person. A person can, for instance, steal another's identity to access their loan and bank accounts as well as credit cards.
People forge identity documents using other people's personal information to use them to commit crimes, for instance, to access secured places or deal with government agencies such as immigration.
White Collar Fraud
It is a type of non-violent offense that is usually financially motivated. The crime was traditionally committed mainly by government officials and business people. However, with technological advancements, more people are using the internet to commit the offense. White-collar fraud crimes include such crimes as bribery, insider trading, Ponzi schemes, racketeering, tax evasion, and forgery, among others.
Penalties for Arizona Fraud
Generally, Section 13-2310 of Arizona Revised Statutes makes fraud a Class 2 felony offense. However, other factors may be considered by the judge and attorneys in determining the penalties an offender would face. In reference to the amount of money involved in the fraud, this is how a defendant could be convicted in Arizona:
- Class 1 misdemeanor conviction for fraud offenses involving less than $1,000
- Class 6 felony conviction for fraud offenses involving an amount between $1,000 and $1,999
- Class 5 felony conviction for fraud offenses involving an amount between $2,000 and $2,999
- Class 4 felony conviction for fraud offenses involving an amount between $3,000 and $3,999
- Class 3 felony conviction for fraud offenses involving an amount between $4,000 and $24,999
- Class 2 felony conviction for fraud offenses involving any amount over $25,000
In addition to the amount of money involved in the fraud case, other factors may influence the decision of the court on the type of penalties the defendant could get in a fraud case. Such aggravating factors could cause your sentence to be more severe than a simple fraud case. Some of these factors include:
- The number of people that were defrauded
- The age of the victims
- The mental capacity of the people the defendant defrauded
- If the defendant has a prior conviction for fraud
- Whether or not the defendant has a previous conviction of another offense that is not related to fraud
Money laundering is another severe form of white-collar crime in the state of Arizona. Laws against this offense are provided under Section 13-2317 of the state's Revised Statutes. According to this section of the Act, money laundering occurs when a person transfers criminally-obtained money from one point to the other to make it hard for the source of the funds to be traced. It is among the most severe white-collar offenses in the state and is sentenced in three diverse degrees, depending on the seriousness of the crime. Every degree carries its own set of penalties.
2nd-Degree Money Laundering Offense
A person can be sentenced to a second-degree offense of money laundering, depending on a range of conduct. Some of the common behaviors that warrant the charges include:
- A person acquires or maintains importance in transporting, transacting, transferring, concealing or receiving information about an existing racketeering proceeding, when they know too well or have a cause to recognize that the proceeds are from an offense
- A person makes the property available through a deal to another person when they know too well that the property is anticipated to be used in the facilitation of racketeering
- A person conducts a sale with a plan to conceal its nature, source, location, control or ownership of the assets when they know too well that the asset involved is a product of an offense
- When a human being knowingly and intentionally makes an untrue statement, misrepresents information or omits essential info in an application, account record, or financial statements. It applies mainly to financial documents
- When an individual knowingly and intentionally attempts to avoid any reporting obligation provided in the Code of Federal Regulations
1st-Degree Money Laundering Offense
1st-degree money laundering offense occurs when an individual consciously plans, initiates, organizes, directs, finances, supervises, manages, or is involved in business offering any of the above services. This offense is mainly committed by leaders, bosses, or creators of any money-laundering schemes mentioned above.
3rd-Degree Money Laundering Offense
3rd-degree money laundering offense is committed in the process of transmitting money. It occurs when an individual knowingly and intentionally confers cash or anything valuable or agrees to do the same when transferring money.
Penalties for Arizona Money Laundering Offense
Money laundering is a felony offense in Arizona, and so, severe punishment awaits anyone found guilty of committing the crime. Offenders are penalized according to the type of money laundering offense they have committed. A first-degree laundering offense is, for instance, punishable by a year in jail, three years in prison, or up to 12.5 years of incarceration, depending on the amount of money involved and the gravity of the offense. A third-degree laundering offense, on the other hand, could be punished by a year in jail, or between four months and two years of incarceration.
Possible Legal Defenses against White Collar Crime Charges in Arizona
All white-collar offenses in the state of Arizona are serious crimes, and most of them are convicted as felony offenses. This is to say that any white-collar offense, however minor it might seem, could land you behind bars for many years. White-collar crimes affect other aspects of your life, including your professional and social life. For that reason, you need to find a way to fight your charges. A competent criminal attorney can use several proven strategies to compel the court to either reduce or drop your charges. Some of these strategies include:
- You did not Act with Intent
As mentioned above, most white-collar crimes have an unlawful purpose of gaining money at the expense of another person or entity. The prosecutor is expected to prove to the court that the defendant acted with criminal intent. However, you can use a lack of purpose for your defense against the allegations you are facing. If, for instance, you made a mistake while filing your tax returns, you may not have had criminal intent. Several errors happen when a person handles financial documents, which could be interpreted as criminal acts, while in the real sense, the person did not intend to commit an offense.
Entrapment happens a lot, especially when the police are looking for a way to capture a criminal. An easy way out for law enforcement officers is to set up a trap for the person or people so that they can catch them in the act. This is a common tactic as it can be used in favor of the defendant in court. Your attorney can tell the court that by setting the trap, the police induced the criminal act, which you could not have committed if the situation was different. Your attorney will have to plan well to convince the court that any law-abiding person would have acted the way you did in that situation.
Intoxication is not used as a legal defense for most criminal acts. However, in the case of white-collar crimes such as bribery and fraud, a person could argue that their actions were not voluntary and that he/she was not in full control of his/her actions. Your attorney will have to prove to the court that you were intoxicated at the time the offense was committed for the court to accept the defense. In most cases, the argument is used to influence the court to give the defendant a lighter sentence.
- The Statement Made was Non-fraudulent
In a case where you are being accused of giving fraudulent information, your criminal defense attorney could argue that the statements you made were not fraudulent. Your accuser may have mistaken your statements as fraudulent, while in the actual sense, you were not gaining anything from them.
Find a Phoenix Criminal Attorney Near Me
If you are facing charges for any white-collar offense in Phoenix, it is advisable to find yourself a competent criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. This is the only way you can escape long prison terms and payment of hefty fines. Again, a white-collar crime conviction can significantly change your social and professional life. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we have a team of well-trained and experienced attorneys who can take up your case, advise, and defend you against the charges you are facing. Call us at 602-551-8092 and let us increase your chances for a better outcome.