Have you been charged with, or are you the target of an investigation into an alleged white collar crime?
These types of offenses are no longer treated with a slap on the wrist, and significant penalties may apply. Whatever the specifics of the charge may be, you will want an experienced white collar defense lawyer by your side. Call our office to speak to Nathaniel Pitoniak, a former prosecutor and experienced criminal defense lawyer. The initial consultation is free.
What is the Definition of a White Collar Crime?
The phrase “white collar crime” is not a term of art, nor is it specifically defined under the Texas Penal Code. But although it does not have a specialized meaning that is consistently and universally accepted by the legal community, it refers, generally, to crimes that:
- are non-violent;
- do not involve threats of violence;
- do not directly involve the sale or distribution of illegal drugs; and
- are motivated by the desire for a financial gain.
Bank robbery, for example, is considered a violent crime, and is outside the scope of what we think of as white collar. But taking the proceeds of the robbery and laundering the money is a separate offense, and money laundering is a white collar crime.
Examples of White Collar Crimes in Texas
White collar crimes in Texas cover a wide variety of subjects. The following are some of the more common examples of state white collar offenses:
- Money Laundering. Houston appears to be a hub for money laundering, which may be related to underlying drug crimes, internet crimes, and other illegal money-producing schemes. When money is acquired illegally, for example, through the sale of illegal drugs, the process of passing the funds through commercial and/or banking transactions to conceal its origin is known as money laundering. Under section 34.02 of the Penal Code, money laundering is always a felony. The degree will depend upon the amount of money involved in the alleged scheme.
- Computer Crimes. Online scams are big business. Through hacking, “phishing,” and other email scams, people attempt to acquire personal information such as names, credit card information, social security numbers and more.
- Insurance and Bank Fraud. Most forms of fraud are considered white collar crimes. They generally involve a misrepresentation for financial gain. An example is insurance fraud, which could consist of false statements to obtain insurance, or the submission of bogus claims. Others are bank fraud and mortgage fraud.
- Securities Fraud. Under section 29 of the Texas Securities Act (2019), engaging in any fraudulent practice in connection with the sale, purchase, or delivery of a security is a felony. This includes making an untrue statement of fact, or omitting any material fact, relating to the sale, purchase or delivery of a security. It also includes rendering advice as a securities advisor without being registered as required under the law.
- Identity Theft. Fraudulent possession or use of “identifying information” is a felony in Texas. The information can be as seemingly innocuous as a person’s name, or as serious as your bank account number, social security number, fingerprint or retina image. It is a felony in Texas, the degree of which depends on the number of items used or possessed.
- Bribery and Corrupt Influence. Bribery relates to public employees (public servants), officials of political parties, and voters. It is a felony of the second degree to offer, confer, solicit or accept any benefit to influence the decision of the public servant, official or voter. It is generally a Class A misdemeanor to coerce a public servant to violate his or her legal duty. And it is a Class A misdemeanor to attempt to privately influence a public official on the basis of unlawful considerations.
These are just some of the white collar crimes under state law in Texas.
Federal White Collar Crimes
A number of Texas state white collar crimes also have counterparts under federal law. They include money laundering, bank fraud, securities fraud, certain internet crimes, and embezzlement or other theft crimes involving banks. Other federal white collar crimes are anti-trust violations, tax evasion, obstruction of justice, federal currency law violations, and Medicaid and Medicare fraud.
Experienced White Collar Defense Lawyer in Houston, TX
Past experience is not a guarantee of future results, but if you are facing a white collar charge, it pays to be represented by an experienced Houston white collar lawyer. Nathaniel Pitoniak has experience representing clients charged with money laundering and other white collar crimes.
As a former prosecutor, he is in a unique position to analyze and spot weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. He will use that experience and fight to protect your rights and provide you with the best possible defense. Call the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak. The initial consultation is free.