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White Collar Crimes

Tampa Criminal Defense Attorneys

What Is White Collar Crime?

Most people have heard the term ‘white collar crime’ at some point or another, but understanding which crimes actually fall into that category can be a little more complicated. Generally speaking, white collar crimes are usually committed through deceit (often involving a violation of trust) and usually motivated by financial gain. That is, to earn more money or possibly to secure some kind of business or personal advantage.

The ‘white collar’ reference makes sense if you consider that these types of offenses are usually done using deception, rather than violence or force–and have been committed by some very high-ranking businessmen and government professionals.

There are a wide variety of crimes that are considered to be ‘white collar’, including embezzlement, money laundering, fraud, and forgery. Here is an overview of those offenses as examples of white collar crimes:


Embezzlement is involved when someone uses their professional position to steal property such as money from their employer or from someone else. Without a doubt, being charged with this kind of crime can affect your life in serious ways–which makes hiring an experienced lawyer you can trust that much more important.

Law enforcement usually prosecutes defendants for embezzlement under Florida’s theft laws. Generally speaking, theft (Fla. Stat. §812.014) means taking or using someone else’s property without their authority or permission, with the intent to deprive them of it (temporarily or permanently).

What Is Embezzlement?

Embezzlement is often referred to as ’employee theft’ because it is known to be committed by people through the means of their employment. To give a general idea of what embezzlement means, an example would be if an employee were to intentionally transfer funds that belonged to their employer (or a client) into their personal account.

For a prosecutor to prove a case of embezzlement, they must usually show with evidence that the defendant intentionally took or used someone else’s property without consent. Even in situations where the property was given over voluntarily, a prosecutor would most likely need to prove that the defendant still intentionally took the property after it was given to them, without the authority to do so.

How Is Theft Involved?

Being accused of embezzlement often leads to someone being charged with either petit theft or grand theft. Most often, the value of the stolen property involved in the case determines which is the charge that applies. The dollar amount value of the property can also affect whether Florida law enforcement will prosecute the defendant for a misdemeanor or a felony.

How Can I Be Charged With Embezzlement?

Being convicted for embezzlement could have serious consequences for your future. This is why if you have been charged, planning a defense is critical. If you are wondering what it means to be charged with embezzlement, here are some general guidelines for the degrees and types of theft that a defendant can be charged with:

  • Grand theft in the third degree applies to cases involving the theft of property valued between $750 and $20,000.
  • Grand theft in the second degree typically applies to cases where stolen property is valued between $20,000 and $100,000
  • Grand theft in the first degree charges usually apply in cases where there was a theft of property valued over $100,000.
  • A misdemeanor petty theft charge most likely will come up in theft cases where stolen property does not meet the threshold value of a felony

Of course, these guidelines may not cover facts or conditions that are unique to your specific case. If you have been accused of embezzlement, you may want to contact a lawyer who is experienced with these types of cases to ask about your options.

What Are Defenses To An Embezzlement Charge?

Although an embezzlement charge can have serious consequences, there are ways to defend against a conviction under Florida law, depending on the case. Every case is unique, but one useful legal defense could be consent–that is, presenting evidence that the owner gave permission for you to have the property (beyond the initial consent to entrust the property to you).

Another defense approach could be good faith, meaning that you had an honest and sincere belief that you were able to own or had a right to possess the property at the time.

These are common defenses, but there may be other defenses available to you, depending on your case. The best way to determine what defenses can protect you is to reach out to an attorney with experience to discuss the details of your case.

Money Laundering

Florida law makes it illegal to transfer money that has been obtained through illegal activity (any felony relating to white collar crime, organized crime, or drug sales) into legitimate accounts or transactions in order to disguise the original source of the funds. A charge for money laundering can have serious consequences for your future, lifestyle, and freedom. This is where hiring an experienced Tampa defense attorney could make a world of difference.

What Is Money Laundering?

Generally speaking, money laundering is the act of hiding the source of money that was illegally obtained (Fla. Stat. §896.101). The concealment of illegal money is usually done by feeding it into legitimate or legal transactions in order to ‘clean’ it–making the origin of the funds more difficult to trace back.

In trial, a prosecutor has the burden to prove all the necessary elements of a crime in order to secure a conviction. In the case of money laundering, prosecutors are required to prove using evidence that a defendant had knowledge of the criminal activity that gave rise to the money or that they were from an illegal source. They must also show that a defendant knew about the intent to use the money in order to hide those unlawful acts.

Although these elements of money laundering can seem straightforward, in many cases a criminal defense attorney can highlight areas in the prosecutor’s case where the evidence or the state’s legal investigation falls short of what must be proven. This is where hiring an attorney with experience could make a serious difference in your case outcome.

What Actions Can Be Investigated For Money Laundering?

Under Florida law, money laundering could include one single financial transaction or a series of transactions, with the purpose of disguising or hiding the source of funds that are obtained through illegal activity.

Some common kinds of transactions that could be used to launder money include:

  • sales
  • loans
  • gifts
  • deposits at financial institutions (such as banks)
  • money transfers
  • investments in assets

Law enforcement will likely investigate these types of exchanges, including transfers of titles (relating to real estate or vehicles), often to find more information about the source of the money or the intent behind spending it.

How Can I Be Charged With Money Laundering?

Florida’s state statutes consider money laundering a felony offense, but a person can be charged in varying degrees, depending on several factors. These can include a defendant’s criminal history, as well as the value and frequency of the financial transactions that are at question in a case.

For instance, someone can be prosecuted for a third degree felony charge for money laundering if the value of their transactions was between $300 and $20,000 within a twelve-month period. On the other hand, a second degree felony charge can be assigned if there are transactions that are valued between $20,000 and $100,000 in the same twelve-month period. A first degree felony charge, which is generally considered the most serious charge for the offense of money laundering, can result when transactions amount to more than $100,000 within a twelve-month period.

It is important to remember that there are many factors which can change the outcome of a case for money laundering. No two cases are the same, and you may have questions about your individual situation. The best way to know your options may be to contact an experienced criminal law attorney.

What Are Defenses To A Money Laundering Charge?

In these types of cases, state attorneys have the burden to produce evidence and show that Florida’s money laundering laws have been violated before they can prosecute defendants. However, you can be protected under Florida law, depending on your case and what defenses are available to you.

One common legal defense is a defendant’s lack of knowledge about the origin or intended use of money. This could apply if, for example, a defendant did not realize the source of certain funds, or why the money was being spent. Another defense that could be presented (depending on the case) is entrapment — which usually speaks to errors that have been made in law enforcement’s actions leading up to an arrest, specifically, by creating the crime.

Keep in mind that every case is different, with different facts and situations, so this is where an experienced criminal law attorney could help your outcome tremendously. An attorney who has experience with handling money laundering cases could present you with legal defenses that you may not know about.

If you have been accused of money laundering, it may be best to reach out to an attorney to discuss the specific details of your case and what your legal options are.


Fraud is a term that can be described as an element of other white collar crimes, such as embezzlement, money laundering, and forgery. However, the act of committing fraud in itself is defined as a crime under Florida law (covered by Chapter 817 of the Florida Annotated Statutes).

Being accused of fraud can have serious consequences for your freedom and your future. Before you submit to any questioning or interrogation, it is critical that you consider whether you would like to hire an experienced criminal law attorney to represent you.

If you have questions, you are not alone– call our office at (813) 229-5353 or contact us online anytime to speak with our professional staff about your case. Legal consultations with the trial attorneys at Fernandez & are 100% free.

What Is Fraud?

Generally speaking, the term ‘fraud’ or ‘fraudulent’ activity usually refers to presenting some kind of false information in order to receive a service or an object in return. This kind of offense can come into play where someone might intentionally mislead others about things such as their identity, their business, their finances, and more.

Since misstating facts can sometimes ‘open doors’ to money or services that would not otherwise be available, fraud has been known to take place in heavily-financed industries including insurance, Medicaid, and credit cards.

Are Forgery And Fraud Different?

In the world of credit and banking, you may have heard the term ‘forgery‘ used to describe fraud. Forgery can be a part of fraud, but it is a standalone crime in the State of Florida as well.

Forgery refers to creating or changing a document in a substantial way with the intent to present false information. As opposed to fraud, which can be committed in a number of different ways, the crime of forgery is usually specific to possessing or creating falsified documents in order to defraud someone.

Documents that hold value are most likely to be used to commit forgery, such as:

  • checks
  • legal documents
  • receipts
  • financial records
  • tickets
  • public records

As crimes that are often related to tricking and financially hurting others, fraud and forgery are charges that can seriously affect your reputation and future, if not handled properly. Hiring an experienced attorney you can trust to represent you could be your best option to secure a fair outcome.

The attorneys and staff at Fernandez & are ready and willing to help you. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free legal consultation, contact us anytime through our website or call us during our office hours at (813) 229-5353.

What Penalties Could I Face For A White Collar Crime In Florida?

Florida’s penalties for white collar crimes can be severe, depending on many variables such as the seriousness of the offense, the number of alleged victims, and the value of stolen property in question. Florida state laws set a variety of sentences for white collar crimes, which can include various punishments from fines to imprisonment.

These penalties do not even take into account the possible damage to your reputation or lost future opportunities that can come with a white collar crime conviction. It depends on the charge you may be facing, but white collar crimes can involve many different state and/or federal laws, with a wide range of possible outcomes.

If you have been accused of a white collar crime, it is never too early to start speaking with a criminal defense attorney about what defenses may be available to you. Contacting an attorney could be the best way for you to understand what charges you may be facing and what your options are.

I’ve Been Charged. Who Should I Call?

If you have been charged with a white collar crime, you may be facing some serious financial and emotional challenges right now. No one should remain unrepresented in a situation that is already so difficult and overwhelming.

Before moving forward, it is critical to think about whether you would like an attorney to step in for your defense. An experienced white collar attorney could help you understand your options and explain if there are legal defenses available to you, with your future in mind.

Hiring an attorney that you trust could improve your chances for a fair outcome. With consultations at no cost, you can feel free to ask us questions about your individual situation.

The attorneys and staff at Fernandez & are ready to help you. Contact us anytime via our website or call us at (813) 229-5353.

Why work with us and why we are the best choice?

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