White-Collar Crime & Theft FAQ | Clearwater - Tampa

Over the years, Florida has cracked down on theft and white-collar crimes. Typically, the crimes involve the specific intent to deprive someone or some agency of property or money. The intent may be proved by the circumstances surrounding the actions of the person charged or using other individuals involved in the offense. The government or state agency must prove specific intent, which, often, is very difficult to do. Here are some common questions that our firm receives from those involved in white-collar crime and theft cases.

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Here are some common questions that our firm receives from clients involved in white-collar crime and theft cases:

What is a white-collar crime?

White-collar crime is a term used to describe a category of non-violent crimes involving theft of money, services, or property. Typically, the crimes involve a large amount of money. If the crime involves multiple people in various geographical locations, the federal government may become involved.

What is a blue collar crime?

Blue-collar crimes usually involve the threat or use of violence.

Is theft a misdemeanor or a felony?

Theft may be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the amount of money involved and what was stolen. Additionally, a misdemeanor theft may be enhanced to a felony regardless of the amount of money involved if you have been convicted of two prior thefts.

How do I know if I am being investigated for a white-collar crime by the federal government?

There are various agencies that investigate federal crimes. The prosecuting agency is the United States Attorney's Office. The investigating agencies are numerous. If you have been contacted by the FBI, the IRS, the SEC, Immigration, USPS, or the Department of Treasury regarding any form of criminal activity, you should contact our office immediately. If you are not represented by an attorney, these agencies may continue to contact you. However, if you are represented by an attorney, all communications should be directed through your attorney. Do not provide any statements to any of the agencies as these statements can and usually will be used against you. Additionally, if you have been contacted to testify against another individual, you should consider consulting an attorney prior to giving a statement. It is crucial to be protected at every stage of the process and you can only do this if you are aware of your rights.

What is RICO?

RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Typically, this Act deals with organized crime that usually involves a business. RICO may cover the criminal actions of one individual or several individuals. The penalties for crimes that fall under RICO are very severe thus it is extremely important to hire an experienced RICO attorney. Call our office today for a free evaluation if you suspect you are under investigation for a RICO related crime. The RICO laws in Florida have expanded over the years and now encompass more criminal activity than the Act was originally meant to cover.

What level offense for score sheet purposes is a grand theft? Score sheets are very complicated. The amount of money involved determines the degree of the crime and the level of the offense which ultimately dictates what an individual with a grand theft may score.

  • Grand theft: $300 – up to $5000 – level 2 offense – 3rd-degree felony
  • Grand theft: $5000 – up to $10,000 – level 3 offense – 3rd-degree felony
  • Grand theft: $10,000 – up to $20,000 – level 4 offense – 2nd-degree felony
  • Grand theft: $20,000 – up to $100,000 – level 6 offense – 2nd-degree felony
  • Grand theft: $100,000 or more – level 7 offense – 1st-degree felony

There are additional theft crimes that vary in degree and severity depending on what is stolen and who the money, services, or items were stolen from.

What is a target letter?

A target letter is a letter sent to an individual to advise he or she is the target of a federal criminal investigation. The letter is sent by a federal prosecutor employed by the United States Attorney's Office. The letter will advise you of the nature of the crime being investigated along with your basic rights such as the right to counsel and the right to a trial by jury. If you have received a target letter, seek legal counsel immediately as you are likely facing federal prosecution.

What type of attorney should I hire if I am facing federal prosecution?

The attorney you hire must be a member of the federal courts. Not every criminal defense attorney is equipped to handle complex federal cases. Contact our office today for a free federal case evaluation.

Will I be prosecuted by the state or the federal government?

If you are being investigated for a white-collar crime, seek the advice of an attorney immediately. The state or the federal government can prosecute you. If the case crosses state lines or international borders, the federal government is more likely to prosecute you.

What are the defenses to federal white-collar crimes?

The facts and circumstances drive the defense in each case. Some more common defenses to these types of criminal charges are entrapment and lack of intent. Entrapment is a commonly misunderstood defense. In order to assert an entrapment defense, you must show that a government or law enforcement agency induced you to commit a crime that you would not have otherwise committed had the government not induced you to do so. Lack of intent is just that, no intent to commit the crime. Do not confuse this with the “I didn't know what I was doing was a crime” scenario as this is not a defense.

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Powers Sellers & Finkelstein is committed to answering your questions about Criminal Defense law issues in Florida. We offer a free consultation and we'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.