White-collar theft refers to financial crimes that impact both individuals and businesses significantly. While street crimes happen out in the open, white-collar theft happens behind closed office doors and often involves significant amounts of money. In Brazoria County, the penalties for these crimes are especially strict. The Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC, offers expert guidance and representation for those facing white-collar theft allegations in Brazoria County.
White Collar Crimes in Texas
White-collar crimes are non-violent offenses committed mainly for personal gain. The FBI recently reported that these types of crimes lead to more than $300 billion in financial losses every year. The most common types of white-collar crimes are:
- Bank Fraud: Illegally obtaining money, assets, or property owned by a bank.
- Embezzlement: Taking money that’s been entrusted to you.
- Fraud & Wire Fraud: Deceptive practices for financial gain, including through electronic transactions.
- Credit Card and Mail Fraud: Unauthorized use of credit card information or misusing the postal system.
- Social Security & Bankruptcy Fraud: Falsifying information to get benefits.
- Extortion, Racketeering, & Money Laundering: Coercing someone through threats, organized criminal activity, and processing illegally obtained money.
- Tax, Mortgage, & Unemployment Fraud: Misleading tax bodies, mortgage providers, or employment benefit systems.
- Insider Trading: Buying or selling stocks based on confidential information.
White Collar Crime Penalties
In both Texas and federal law, the severity of white-collar crime penalties is determined by the amount stolen or embezzled.
Felony White Collar Offenses Under Texas Law:
- $2,500 to $30,000 stolen: State jail felony with 180 days to 2 years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.
- $30,000 to $150,000 stolen: Third-degree felony with 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
- $150,000 to $300,000 stolen: Second-degree felony with 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
- Over $300,000 stolen: First-degree felony with 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Penalties can increase if there’s a prior criminal record if many people were harmed, or if an elderly person was defrauded. Also, some offenses might come with federal charges.
Misdemeanor Offenses Under Texas Law:
- Less than $100 stolen: Class C misdemeanor with a fine up to $500.
- $100 to $750 stolen: Class B misdemeanor with a fine up to $2,000, up to 180 days in jail, or both.
- $750 to $2,500 stolen: Class A misdemeanor with a fine up to $4,000, up to 1 year in prison, or both.
Defending Against White Collar Crime Charges in Texas
As stated above, white-collar crimes in Texas can result in significant penalties, including hefty fines and imprisonment. Here are common defense strategies that our white-collar crime attorney might employ to win your case.
- Prosecution’s Burden of Proof: In any white-collar crime case, the prosecution must prove you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Duress or Coercion: Did someone force you into committing the crime? If so, you might have acted under duress or coercion. This defense requires evidence of threats or proof of external pressure.
- Entrapment: Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officials convince someone to commit a crime they wouldn’t have done otherwise. If undercover agents persuaded you, this defense might apply.
- Incapacity: Claiming incapacity means you were mentally or physically unable to commit the crime. Evidence or expert testimony can support this claim.
- Lack of Intent: For many financial crimes like embezzlement or fraud, proving intent is crucial. If you didn’t mean to commit the crime or it was an accident, this defense can challenge the prosecution’s case. Documents, emails, or financial records can be used to demonstrate a lack of intent.
- Advice of Counsel: If you acted on a lawyer’s advice, thinking it was legal, you can use this defense. The lawyer who provided the advice may need to testify.
- Illegal Search and Seizure: Your rights protect against unreasonable searches. If the evidence against you was obtained illegally, it might be excluded from the case.
Criminal Liability in White Collar Crimes
In white-collar crimes, it’s common for one party’s actions to result in criminal charges for another. Both Texas and Federal laws provide guidance on this.
Corporate Liability: Federal Law
The principle of “Respondeat Superior” means a corporation can be liable for its employee’s actions. If an employee commits a crime while working for the corporation, and the company is aware of it, the corporation can be held responsible.
Corporate Liability: Texas Law
According to Texas Penal Code § 7.22, a corporation can be held responsible for an employee’s actions if:
- The employee was performing their job duties.
- The action was for the company’s benefit.
- The crime is classified as a strict liability crime or one that targets corporations, or;
- The act was approved by a majority of the Board of Directors or a high-ranking official like the CEO.
Individual Liability in Texas
Texas Penal Code §7.02 states that an individual can be liable for another’s actions if they:
- Force them to do the act.
- Aid, encourage, or solicit the act.
- Fail to stop the act despite having a legal duty to do so.
In Texas, one employee can often be held liable for another employee’s actions. But it’s less common for a corporation to be held responsible for an employee’s actions. On the other hand, under Federal law, corporations are more likely to face charges for their employees’ actions.
How the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC Can Help
Are you facing a white-collar crime charge in Brazoria County? You need experts on your side. The Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC, is experienced in handling white-collar theft and the resulting charges. We analyze your case thoroughly and explore all defense options available to you. We’re familiar with the details of these charges and the challenges of criminal liability. Our goal is to protect your rights and provide a solid defense.
White-collar crime charges are serious. Let our experienced team help you navigate Brazoria County’s legal system. Call us today at (832) 230-0075, and let us work for you.