The economic crisis in the last few years has led to an increase in white collar crime. This type of crime is usually committed by a person in a position of trust, but also can include credit card fraud, debit card fraud, and ongoing criminal enterprises such as racketeering (RICO).

Florida law is tough on those charged, meaning the penalties are high. These types of crimes are often very complex. It takes a person with experience in this type of case.  For the past 20 years as a criminal defense lawyer, I have handled many white collar cases including racketeering.

Defense Lawyer for White Collar Crimes

The penalties associated with white collar crimes can be steep and life altering. Anytime an individual is arrested for a white collar crime, his or her future is undoubtedly in jeopardy. In order to protect your future, it is vital that you consult with a defense attorney immediately.

I am a skilled Fort Walton, Destin and Niceville defense attorney who has been defending clients charged in  the state of Florida for 20 years. If you are facing a white collar crime in Okaloosa County, contact Robert A. Dees, PA today at 850-439-0999. I represent people throughout the area, including Fort Walton Beach, Destin and Niceville.

Different Types of Fraud

Fraud is one of the most common types of white collar crimes. Generally, fraud means to gain money, property or anything of value by deceit. Most fraud charges are covered within Chapter 817 of the Florida Annotated Statutes. Some of the charges involved could include:

  • Credit Card Fraud: There are a number of offenses that involve fraud that utilizes a credit card or debit card. It is illegal to use a credit card that is stolen or forged. This includes offenses in which a credit card number is alleged to have been stolen and used.
  • Mortgage Fraud: It is a crime to misrepresent one’s income, employment, or assets on a mortgage application.
  • Scheme to Defraud: Any effort that is a systematic attempt to defraud people. This can also be charged with racketeering (RICO).

Common White Collar Crimes in Florida

Embezzlement – Taking money or property by means of fraudulent or unlawful behavior (Fla. Stat. § 817.02-817.569).

Identity Theft – Using or taking another person’s identifying information without his or her knowledge or permission and using the identifying information fraudulently (Fla. Stat. § 817.568).

Credit Card Fraud – To obtain or attempt to obtain credit or to purchase any goods, property, or service, by use of any false, fictitious, counterfeit, or illegally obtained credit card or credit card information (Fla. Stat. § 817.481).

Forgery/Counterfeiting – When an individual is in lawful possession of property, but unlawfully uses or manipulates that property for his or her own benefit (Fla. Stat. § 812.081).

Money Laundering – To conduct a transaction with the intent of concealing the fact that the money used was gained unlawfully. Money laundering is frequently charged in conjunction with other criminal allegations, such as drug offenses (Fla. Stat. § 896.101).

Fraud – Any individual who gains control over an object or service by intentionally misleading another party is guilty of this offense. Misleading someone into surrendering a legal right can also be considered as fraud (Fla. Stat. § 817.02 – 817.569).

Other commonly committed forms of white collar crime include mortgage fraud, scheme to defraud, healthcare fraud, check fraud, bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, racketeering, insurance fraud and accounting fraud.

What are the Penalties for White Collar Crimes?

The White Collar Crime Victim Protection Act, which can be found in section 775.0844 of the Florida Statutes, lays out the penalties for white collar crimes.  White collar crimes can either be misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the value at issue.

If a person is charged with a second degree misdemeanor, he or she can be sentenced to up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. A first degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

If charged with a third degree felony, the accused faces up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. A second degree felony carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years and up to a $10,000 fine. For a first degree felony, an offender can be sentenced to up to 30 years or life in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.

If an offender commits two or more white collar offenses that are related to the same incident or involves the same victims and the offender attempts to obtain $50,000 or more, he or she can be charged with a first degree felony and face enhanced penalties of up to 30 years in prison and up to a $30,000 fine.

Economic Crimes Unit

In June 2012, the Sheriff’s Office in Okaloosa County created a pilot program called the Economic Crimes Unit. The Sheriff’s Office said the unit will partner with a financial institution, like banks and credit unions, to spot white collar crime.

The State Attorney General’s Office is also heavily involved in the prosecution of financial crimes, particularly those committed against state agencies and state programs. For instance, the Attorney General’s Office is involved in the prosecution of Medicaid fraud.

Financial Crime Resources

Florida Attorney General Identity Theft Page: The attorney general maintains a page on identity theft, including resources on what victims may do and what people can do to prevent ID theft.

Florida Statutes, Chapter 817: Titled “Fraudulent Practices,” this section contains many of the prohibitions against different types of fraud in state law.