White-collar crimes are financial crimes such as fraud and embezzlement that do not involve violence. Although no victims are usually physically hurt by white collar crimes, these offenses can be very damaging. The penalties for white collar crime in Georgia may be high.
Charges for white-collar crimes can be brought as misdemeanors or felonies. The defendant may also face a civil lawsuit brought by the victims of his or her crime.
In many cases, white-collar charges are filed in the federal courts. This is typically the case with major fraud cases or offenses such as wire fraud which use the mail service, a federal agency.
These offenses are very complicated in nature. It’s important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight them.
The penalties for white-collar crimes in Georgia depend on the offense. Federal offenses usually carry stiffer penalties. The following are some common white collar crimes.
Under O.C.G.A. § 16-9-121 an individual commits identity theft if he or she willfully and fraudulently uses another person’s identifying documents or information without their consent.
Georgia’s identity fraud law does not apply to anyone under 21 who uses a fake ID to buy alcohol or gain access to a bar. Other criminal statutes apply to this kind of behavior.
Identity fraud is a felony in Georgia punishable by one to ten years jail time, a fine up to $100,000, or both. If the conviction is a second or subsequent offense, the offender will face incarceration of three to 15 years, a fine up to $250,000, or both.
Embezzlement is defined under O.C.G.A. § 16-8-4. The offense is also known as theft by conversion. It occurs when a person who lawfully obtains property or funds belonging to another and is obliged to use the funds for a specific purpose, knowingly converts the funds for his or her own personal use in violation of the legal obligation.
Embezzlement also defines the offense when a worker for a financial institution or a government worker fails to pay on an account and converts the funds or property to his or her own use.
Theft by conversion can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The penalty for a misdemeanor charge is a fine of no more than $1,000 and a sentence of up to 12 months in prison. If a defendant is jailed for six months or less, the judge may allow the sentence to be served via weekend confinement or when the defendant is not working.
A felony charge of theft by conversion is considerably harsher. It entails confinement of no less than one year and no more than 10 years.
Under O.C.G.A. § 10-5-51 it is unlawful for a party who is paid to advise others to provide information about the value of securities that gives the individual an unfair advantage when making decisions on the purchasing, investing in or selling of securities. This is also known as insider trading. In some cases, company executives use inside information about the value of their company to buy or sell off shares.
Often security fraud is prosecuted in the federal courts which impose a sentence of imprisonment of 5 years for each instance of securities fraud and payment of a fine depending on the value of the securities involved.
Money laundering occurs when funds are obtained through illegal methods, and a perpetrator attempts to legitimize the funds through financial transactions. Under O.C.G.A. § 7-1-912, strict requirements are imposed on Georgia financial institutions to comply with the reporting, filing and record-keeping requirements under federal law. Financial institutions must keep a record of any currency where money laundering is suspected, and file a report of a transaction with the appropriate federal authority.
Often money laundering is dealt with federally if a bank or another financial institution is involved. It can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
There are serious penalties for white-collar crimes. For this reason, it makes sense to hire an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney. At the Law Office of Michael West, we are aware of the complexities of these cases and how people can be caught up in white-collar investigations through no fault of their own. Please call us at (404) 913-1529.