White collar crimes are non-violent crimes and typically committed for financial gain. Fraud is a common type of white collar crime and covered within Chapter 817 of the Florida Annotated Statutes. Any person who gains control over an object or service by deliberately misleading another party is guilty of fraud. It includes credit card fraud, insurance fraud, Medicaid fraud, embezzlement, forgery, money laundering and more.
The Penalties for White Collar Crimes
The penalties for white collar crimes in Florida can be steep, depending on the nature of the crime and amount of monies involved. These types of crimes can also lead to misdemeanor or felony charges. Those charged with a first degree misdemeanor face up to $1,000 and one year in prison. A second degree misdemeanor can bring up to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.
Third degree felonies yield up to $5,000 in fines and five years behind bars. Second degree felony charges for white collar crimes can carry a jail term of up to 15 years and a $10,000 fine. And a first degree felony conviction delivers a fine up to $10,000 and a sentence of up to 30 years to life in prison. And if a white collar crime offender commits two or more offenses that are related for a gain of $50,000 or more, they can be charged with a first degree felony with extended penalties of a $30,000 fine and 30 years in jail.
As a matter of fact, a Miami pharmacy owner was recently sentenced to four years in prison for his part in a nationwide Medicare fraud. Evelio Penaranda had submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare for drugs that weren’t needed, given or prescribed to Medicare patients. The claims were submitted using the names of doctors and Medicare beneficiaries. According to the Department of Justice, Penaranda controlled the pharmacies’ bank accounts and transferred the monies from Medicare to his accomplices and himself.
Northwest Florida’s Stance on White Collar Crime
Counties in Northwest Florida take a tough stance on white collar crime. In 2012, the Sheriff’s Office in Okaloosa County developed a pilot program known as the Economic Crimes Units. This unit partners up with credits units, banks and other financial institutions to identify white collar crime. Plus, the State Attorney General’s Office is heavily involved in prosecuting white collar crime offenders, including those crimes against state programs and state agencies.
Defense Strategies for White Collar Crime Cases
The first thing that needs to be looked at when building a criminal defense strategy for white collar crimes is to examine what evidence the prosecution has. The elements of the crime and evidence must be looked at. There may be soft spots or evidence that can be construed in a different manner. There are certainly times when the government gets the wrong idea.
White collar crime cases often have mountains of documents in the discovery package. If any documents are missing, defense attorneys will subpoena them. Ledgers are needed to understand how the money flowed. One of the most common defense strategies is to source the money. For example, if the government says the money got there through illegal means, it may be possible to prove that the money got into an account differently than how the government alleges it did. Another defense is defense of the state. It’s not uncommon for people to make mistakes without any criminal intent. This type of defense is completely legitimate in the defense of white collar crimes.
To learn more about white collar crimes in Florida or criminal defense, contact Destin Florida defense attorney John F. Greene. With 30 years of experience working with defendants in both state and federal courts Attorney Greene will review the facts of your case and, if there is a remedy for your legal issue, he will find it.
The law office of John F. Greene is located in the City of Destin and serves all those along the Emerald Coast, specifically the Destin, Crestview, DeFuniak Springs, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville and Panama City Beach. Contact John online or call 850-424-6833 to schedule a consultation.