White Collar Crime Lawyer San Francisco CA
Like many large cities in California, San Francisco has its share of white collar crime and our lawyer has the experience necessary to handle a wide range of cases. If you have already been arrested or convicted of a white collar crime but would like to have the conviction removed from your criminal record, The Morales Firm can help you. We help San Francisco residents get their criminal record expunged or convictions sealed. If you do not take this step, your existing criminal record can prevent you from getting a great job, housing, and cause you public embarrassment.
An aggressive white collar crime lawyer in San Francisco, CA from The Morales Firm can help prevent your one-time mistake from punishing you over and over again. Call us today to find out more. We offer a free one-time consultation which will offer you the opportunity to ask questions and learn how we can help you.
The Nature of White Collar Crimes
There is some confusion about what qualifies as a white collar crime in San Francisco, CA, as our lawyer can tell you. A white collar crime is usually one that is committed by a business professional and is for financial gain. The “white collar” is a reference to the stereotypical white collared shirt worn by businessmen who work in offices. Though that is still the term used by many, it can refer to any number of crimes committed by men as well as women who may or may not work in an office setting. Some of the most common types of white collar crime that occur in San Francisco, CA, and which our lawyer at The Morales Firm represents include the following:
- Insider stock trading
- Identity theft
- Insurance fraud
Who Tends to Commit a White Collar Crime?
Because of the interesting stories portrayed by Hollywood and the media, it is common for people to associate white collar crimes with Wall Street, executives, and high profile workers. While there have been people working in positions of prestige and power to be implicated in white collar crimes, it is certainly not true that these are the only people investigated for being involved in million dollar schemes.
Everyday people can find themselves being charged with a white collar crime. For example, a known case in Ohio involved an employee working at the Clerk of Courts Office who was accused of stealing $100,000. In California, a postal worker faced white collar crime charges after being accused of stealing at least 6,000 credit cards from the mail.
What Courts Are White Collar Crimes Prosecuted In?
As a white collar crime lawyer in San Francisco, CA might tell you, most of these cases are prosecuted in the federal court system. This is because usually there are very large sums of money involved, and a growing number of these cases involve computer-related offenses, and/or the sharing of information across state lines. Many white collar crimes are complex and involve the theft of thousands or millions of dollars. A case like this tends to require enormous resources which state agencies may lack. This is another reason why most cases are handled at a federal level.
That being said it is possible for a defendant to face state and federal charges. Regardless of which system he or she is facing charges in, a white collar crime lawyer in San Francisco, California should be retained as soon as possible for the best possible outcome.
What if I Am the Subject of a RICO Investigation?
If you are being investigated on grounds of RICO, but have not been arrested, you should waste no time in calling The Morales Law Firm. When you call our firm, tell us why you believe you are being investigated for RICO. We’ll help you to understand what you should do and we recommend following our advice. On your own, we would recommend being very careful about talking on the phone or using any electronic messaging devices as they could be wire tapped.
You should also be careful about who you are talking to because you never know if they are working with investigators of the RICO organization. It is very important to talk with a white collar crime lawyer in San Francisco, CA as quickly as possible to protect yourself.
Do You Need a Lawyer
White collar crimes can carry long term prison sentences. Most recently Bernard Madoff received 150 years in prison for a $65 million fraud scheme. Norman Schmid was sentenced to 330 years for fraud. Although both cases are extreme examples of white collar crimes, they provide an understanding that the court is not adverse to handing out severe sentences for financial crimes. You should absolutely have a lawyer from The Morales Law Firm on your side.
Can I Get my Record Expunged?
If you have been charged and convicted with a white-collar crime (or any other offense), you know that having a criminal record can negatively affect your life long after time is served and/or fines and penalties paid and restitution made. Unfortunately, there is no way to completely remove an ex-offender’s record under California law. However, some relief may be available under section 1204.3 of the California Penal Code.
If you are seeking to have your criminal record expunged, you will want a white collar crime lawyer in San Francisco, CA to help you navigate the process.
Who is Eligible for Expungement?
Under PC 1204.3, a convict who has served their sentence and completed probation at least one year before filing the petition. It is not a true expungement, because the record will still appear on a background check. However, it will state that the case was dismissed. The ex-offender will be able to truthfully state on a job application that they have not been convicted.
You are not eligible for expungement if you:
- are currently serving a sentence
- are still on probation
- have been convicted of certain motor vehicle offenses
- have been arrested and convicted in the past twelve months
There may be other exceptions depending on your circumstance, which a white collar crime lawyer in San Francisco, CA can explain in greater detail.
What are the Limits of Expungement?
Even though your case may be dismissed, you will still need to disclose the conviction if you are applying to run for public office, a state license or a contract with the state lottery. Furthermore, the court will consider it as a prior conviction if you are accused and tried for another crime.
How Do I Apply for Expungement?
There are three options when seeking an expungement:
- fill out the appropriate forms and file them with the court yourself
- Participate in California’s “Clean Slate” Program
- have a white collar crime lawyer in San Francisco, CA guide you through the process
Because petitioning for expungement is a complicated process, it is best to have an experienced criminal attorney on your side/
What About an Executive Pardon?
This is another form of relief for which former convicts may apply. Also known as a Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR), it is the same as getting pardoned by the governor. The application process is extremely complex, so if you plan to seek an executive pardon, get legal help.
What You Should Ask Your White Collar Crime Lawyer
Have You Handled Cases Like Mine?
White collar crime is a wide field. For example, it includes different types of fraud, insider trading, antitrust violations, embezzlement, conspiracy, money laundering and identity theft, to name a few. Therefore, if you are looking for a white collar crime lawyer in San Francisco CA, you should find one that specializes in white collar crime and has experience handling your type of case.
Not only should your attorneys have case-specific experience, but they should also have had positive outcomes in these cases. For example, they should have a record of charge dismissals and reductions or acquittals. Also, ask about favorable plea bargains and how they prevented or minimized fines and other penalties.
What Relationships Do You Have With Regulatory Agencies?
First, you are looking for conflicts of interest. For example, if your white collar crime lawyer in San Francisco CA has also represented any of the regulatory agencies that may be charging you with a crime, the lawyer or firm has a conflict of interest.
Also, if your firm has a relationship with these agencies, they may have a stronger negotiation position. Although you may be required to pay fines, you may avoid criminal charges or jail time if your attorney has experience working with these agencies.
Do You Work With Expert Witnesses?
In financial cases, expert witnesses can be your best friend. Many law firms that handle white collar crimes, such as The Morales Law Firm, work closely with expert witnesses. These professionals are considered experts in their fields. They have often written books or scholarly articles on their topics, and they have extensive experience in the financial sector. Expert witnesses are also able to reduce highly technical jargon and writing into content that a layperson can understand. They are invaluable in a white collar case, so your white collar crime lawyer in San Francisco CA should have relationships with several of these witnesses.
May I Speak With Several of Your Former Clients?
Reputable firms, e.g., The Morales Law Firm, will provide you with references. They may even suggest that you speak with their former clients. You want objective feedback from other individuals who have worked with your attorneys.
What Are Your Fees?
Law firms charge different fees for different services. In addition, everyone who works on your case may have a different fee schedule. For example, a paralegal or associate won’t typically charge as much as a partner. In addition, you may be charged a flat rate or hourly fees. Some attorneys can give you a number that will cover your entire case, while others will charge you their hourly rate at specific time periods, such as monthly. You need to understand the pay schedule so you are prepared to pay your itemized bills when they come in.
What You Need to Know if You Are Charged With a White Collar Crime
White-collar crime, which involves fraud and large sums of money, is very much in the news these days. Furthermore, at a time when the “top 1 percent” are increasingly vilified, juries are handing out stiff sentences and making examples of white-collar criminals. If you have been accused, a white collar crime lawyer in San Francisco, CA can help with your defense. Even if you have been convicted, the Morales Law Firm can assist in getting your sentence reduced, or even your record expunged.
White-Collar Crime, Defined
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the term “white-collar crime” was first used more than eighty years ago to describe the theft of large sums of money by businessmen, bankers, politicians and civil servants. Unlike robbers who use violence in order to steal relatively minor amounts, white-color criminals employ deceit, subterfuge and falsification. The amounts at stake usually run into the six and seven-figure range or more; in 2019, an executive at UBS Puerto Rico was convicted of stealing over $1 million from investors. Currently, “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli is serving seven years for fraud.
White-collar crime can also involve a political figure who purposefully misuses taxpayer funds for personal gain.
In either situation, white-collar crime is a Federal offense (meaning you are prosecuted by the United States Government) as well as a felony that can result in decades behind bars for the convict. Even if the sentence is relatively light, having such a crime on your record can mean you are barred from working in finance or running for office ever again. That is why having a white collar crime lawyer in your corner is vital.
Examples of White-Collar Crime
Some specific crimes falling under the category of white-collar include:
- Credit card fraud
- Identity Theft
- Insider Trading
- Insurance Fraud
- Market manipulation (“pump and dump”)
- Money laundering
- Ponzi schemes
- Securities/Commodities Fraud
- Tax fraud
Although these crimes can involve millions or even tens of millions of dollars, often there are much smaller (but substantial) amounts involved. And although they may seem like victimless crimes, they do in fact hurt real people who lose part or all their savings. At some level, physical violence may occur as a side effect when an “enforcer” or “muscle” is employed (in which case the perpetrator is in violation of the federal Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering Activity provision of RICO). White-collar crime is also a major reason for the public’s diminishing trust in the financial system.
It is a small wonder that citizen juries impose maximum penalties.
If You Are Under Investigation
The second you have reason to believe you are being investigated is the time to call upon a white-collar crime lawyer in San Francisco, CA. If your suspicions are correct, it may be only a matter of time before you are arrested and taken before a judge. Although white-collar crime may be treated differently than burglary or armed robbery, a suspect still has the same rights to remain silent and to retain counsel. The experienced attorneys at the Morales Law Firm understand the issues involved and can provide a strong defense. Even if you have already been convicted, it may be possible to have your sentence reduced or your record expunged.
White Collar Crime Expungement With the Help of an Experienced San Francisco, CA Lawyer
Having a criminal record can cause difficulties in a person’s life, on a professional as well as personal level. In San Francisco, CA, even being accused of having committed a white collar crime can result in serious repercussions despite having legal representation from a skilled lawyer. If the accusation escalates to a conviction, you may be facing fines as well as prison time. Even after you have served your time and paid your fines, your criminal record can feel like a punishment. After all, nearly anyone can pay for a background check on a person and share that information with a potential employer or even the public. Thankfully, in San Francisco, CA a white collar crime lawyer from our firm can provide you with the solution: expungement. Also known as sealing a criminal record, an expungement erases the criminal accusations against you that resulted in an arrest and possibly a criminal conviction on your record so that they are not viewable to anyone. As a result, when you apply for a job, housing, loan, or to a school, any background check they perform will not return any indication that you were arrested or convicted of the white collar crime lawyer.
There are some eligibility requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for expungement. Call our office in San Francisco, CA to schedule a complimentary case review with our white collar crime lawyer.
Credit Card Fraud
Under federal law, white collar crime is defined as a crime that is characterized by “deceit, concealment, or violation of trust” that are not “dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence.” White collar crimes are usually committed in order to obtain some kind of financial gain. One of the most common types of white collar crime that a San Francisco, CA white collar crime lawyer defends against is credit card fraud. Many people do not realize that credit card fraud is classified as a federal crime and the penalties for a conviction can be harsh.
Credit Card Fraud in California
As a San Francisco, CA white collar crime lawyer can explain, there is a list of actions that can be charged as credit card fraud under the California Penal Code. There are a number of statutes that cover credit card fraud: 484e, 484f, 484g, 484h, 484i, and 484j. The following are the criminal activity and potential penalty if convicted:
- Fraudulent possession and transfer of a credit card: This can be found under 484e PC and is prosecuted as grand theft. Depending on the circumstances, this can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor charge, a conviction could mean up to one year in county jail and up to a $1,000 fine. As a felony, a conviction could mean up to three years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
- Forging credit card information: This can be found under 484f PC. This can also be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, with convictions the same as fraudulent possession and transfer.
- Fraudulent use of an access card or account information: This can be found under 484g PC. A conviction is based on the value of the items purchased. If the amount is under $950 during a six-month period, the charge will be classified as petty theft and the sentence will be six month in jail and up to $1,000 fine. If the amount exceeds $950, a conviction will be for grand theft.
- Fraudulent retail transactions: This can be found under 484h PC. The charges are the same as above, with petty theft convictions for damages of $950 or less and grand theft convictions for damages more than $950.
- Counterfeiting credit cards: This can be found under 484i PC. Counterfeiting credit cards is charged as a either a misdemeanor forgery or a felony forgery, depending on the circumstances.
- Publishing credit card information: This can be found under 484j PC. This crime is charged as a misdemeanor. Penalty for conviction is a maximum of six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
At its most basic, white-collar crime is financial crime. This broad term spans federal offenses from tax evasion to insider trading. The FBI generally defines white-collar crime as “illegal acts which are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence.”
Classification of white-collar crimes is distinguished by the potential consequences tied to the offense in question. A misdemeanor is an offense that cannot be punishable by a sentence lengthier than 365 days in jail. By contrast, a felony may be punishable by up to a lifetime in prison, depending upon the severity of the offense.
Because white collar crimes are—by their very definition—non-violent offenses, prison terms associated with these offenses tend to be less lengthy than those handed down for convictions of violent offenses. However, this sentencing disparity does not make it any less important that you treat any white-collar criminal charges that you may be facing with the utmost seriousness. If you have been charged with a white-collar offense (or you expect that you will be charged with an offense soon), connect with a knowledgeable San Francisco, CA white collar crime lawyer at Morales Law Firm so that our team may begin building the strongest possible defense on your behalf.
White Collar Crime Lawyer – San Francisco, CA
If you’re facing criminal charges, you don’t have any time to waste in building a strong defense. Each moment that the clock ticks by is a moment that our firm could be working to keep you out of jail. If you’re tempted to forego legal advice at this time because you’re “only” being charged with a misdemeanor, it’s critical that you adjust your perspective right now.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor White Collar Offenses
It’s true that misdemeanors carry a lighter sentencing burden than felonies do. If you’re being charged with a misdemeanor, you can’t be imprisoned for more than a year. However, a misdemeanor criminal conviction is still a criminal record. A record you’ll be compelled to disclose on job applications, housing applications, credit applications, and even volunteer applications. If you want to avoid the challenges that will accompany you for the remainder of your life following a criminal conviction, you’ll need to start taking the charges against you as seriously as possible.
Legal Assistance Is Available
Regardless of whether the charges you’re facing have been classified as misdemeanors or felonies, you’ll want to avoid a conviction if at all possible. Living life with the weight of the stigma that attaches to a criminal record could affect your wellbeing, your finances, and your loved ones for the rest of your life. Fight. Fight for your right to defend against the charges levied against you. The experienced California team at Morales Law Firm is here to aggressively protect your interests but we can’t help you until you pick up the phone. Call our office now to learn more about your rights, options, and our approach to representation. We look forward to speaking with you.
Let Us Help
If you have been charged with credit card fraud, contact The Morales Law Firm to speak with a skilled white collar crime lawyer San Francisco, CA clients recommend. Call our office today.
“Chris followed my case through to the end. He was always professional and responded quickly and thoroughly to all of my questions and concerns.”