The exact punishment for a white collar crime in California depends on the specific crime you are accused of committing. The term “white collar” describes numerous non-violent, illegal acts committed to obtain money or some financial gain. Each crime may involve deceit, concealment or an abuse of trust. The punishment for all white collar crimes includes time behind bars, restitution and fines. In California, some white collar crimes are listed as felonies and others are misdemeanors.
Types of White Collar Crime in California
In California, white collar crimes range from fraud and computer crimes to forgery, car insurance fraud and environmental crime. Embezzlement is another type of white collar crime. According to the state’s Penal Code Section 503, embezzlement is taking property or money entrusted to you. You may be accused of intentionally transferring it to yourself to permanently deprive the true owner.
Other types of white collar crimes in California include:
- Medi-Cal Fraud
- Health Care Fraud
- Worker’s Compensation Fraud
- Mortgage Fraud
- Unemployment Insurance Fraud
Difference between Misdemeanor and Felony Punishments
A white collar misdemeanor is considered a serious crime, punishable by time in county jail ranging from days to months, but never longer than one year. A white collar felony is considered a harsher, more serious crime than a misdemeanor. It is punishable by state prison time. The time in state prison for a felony white collar crime is at least one year.
California Penal Code Section 186.11
The state has a law referred to as an aggravated white collar crime enhancement. The law allows a judge in California to add an additional two to five years to your prison sentence if two things apply. For instance, you are facing a serious of criminal charges such as embezzlement, fraud and bribery. In addition to those charges, you have two prior white collar convictions. The two prior convictions must involve embezzlement or fraud.
Also, the alleged victim must lose more than $100,000 because of the white collar crime. The amount of money the alleged victim lost determines the additional years in prison you may face, if convicted. For instance, if an alleged victim lost more than $100,000, but less than $500,000, then you face an additional one or two years in prison. If an alleged victim lost more than $500,000, you may have three or five years added to your criminal sentence.
The prison terms are separate from the white collar crime punishment. This means you must serve the white collar crime punishment and additional punishment consecutively.
Fines For White Collar Crime
If convicted of a white collar crime, a judge may also include a fine too. A fine is a payment made to the court. The purpose of paying a fine to the court is to deter and prevent you from committing the crime again. The amount of money a judge may order you to pay depends on the crime and the severity. The fine may range from $1,000 to more than $10,000.
Restitution to the Victim
Restitution is a payment you are ordered by the court to pay to the victim as part of your punishment. Judges will often require a person convicted of white collar crime pay restitution to victims for any financial setbacks. Thus, a significant part of the punishment is to help victims recover the money or property taken from them in the course of the crime.
Restitution and fines are not used interchangeably. They are separate punishments. Restitution is paid to the victim, and fines are paid to the court.
Other Punishments For White Collar Crime in California
Prison, jail, fines and restitution are the typical white collar crime punishments. A judge may include other punishments in addition to prison or jail time such as forfeiture, which is the seizure of your personal property by law enforcement officers. Property is can be taken if used in a crime or obtained as a result of a crime.
Home detention, or house arrest, is an alternative to the jail time. Home detention is the punishment of remaining in your home for a specific amount of time (such as six months) instead of serving time in jail. You cannot leave your home unless you are going to work, school or doctor’s appointments. If you violate home detention, you may have to spend the rest of your criminal sentence in jail.
Want To Avoid the Harsh Punishments of a White Collar Conviction?
If you or a family member have been accused of and/or arrested for a white collar crime in California, the law is not on your side right now. Prosecutors are focused on getting a conviction or unfair guilty plea. You have the right to defend yourself with the help of a strong defense team. Let the Simmrin Law Group be your strong defense team. Contact our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm immediately for a FREE consultation at 310-997-4688.