In Corpus Christi, white-collar crime means obtaining money or assets through fraud, deceit, or manipulation. The term "white-collar" is used to refer to suit-and-tie workers who work in offices, unlike blue-collar workers who engage in physical labor. Therefore, white-collar crimes involve a variety of non-violent offenses committed by office workers in the business or corporate setting. Examples of white-collar crimes in Corpus Christi include embezzlement, forgery, credit card fraud, tax fraud, healthcare fraud, money laundering, securities fraud, counterfeiting, computer or internet fraud, trade secret theft, and insurance fraud.
According to statistics published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's crime explorer, the city of Corpus Christi witnessed 515 cases of counterfeiting and forgery in 2020.
The punishments for white-collar crimes in Corpus Christi can be severe depending on several factors:
The punishments for white-collar crimes are different and often considered less strict when compared to violent street crimes such as murder, rape, assault, and robbery. Violent street crimes can attract a prison sentence of 10 years to life imprisonment and the death penalty as the maximum sentence. However, some white-collar crimes share similar punishments with violent street crimes due to the severity of damage caused to the economy or victim. A good example is corporate and tax fraud which attracts a maximum sentence of life imprisonment depending on the degree of the offense.
Some of the common white-collar charges in Corpus Christi include:
This is otherwise known as employee theft under Texas law. The offense arises when an employee of a business or organization illegally takes money from the company's accounts for personal use. It is an act of mishandling or diverting corporate funds for personal gain. A person convicted of an embezzlement charge may face severe punishments depending on the amount of money or value of assets defrauded. If the amount of money or value of assets embezzled is less than $1,500, the crime is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to a year. The offense becomes a State Jail Felony if the money embezzled is between $1,500 to $20,000. This is punishable by imprisonment for 180 days to 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000. Embezzlement of $20,000 to $100,000 is a third-degree felony, punishable by imprisonment for 2 to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000. Embezzlement of $100,000 to $200,000 is a second-degree felony, punishable by imprisonment for 2 to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000. The offense becomes a first-degree felony if the amount of money embezzled is more than $200,000. The offense is punishable by imprisonment for 5 to 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
This offense occurs when a person fraudulently obtains money or other benefits from a healthcare benefit program or scheme. Such a person may be a healthcare provider, insurer, or even a patient. In Corpus Christi, individuals facing healthcare fraud charges face a wide range of penalties if found guilty. The accused may face a class C misdemeanor if the amount defrauded is less than $100. This attracts a maximum fine of up to $500. The accused may, however, face a class A or B charge if the amount defrauded is greater than $100 but less than $2,500. Where the accused's fraud is greater than $2,500 but less than $30,000, the accused may face 180 days to 2 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Greater amounts defrauded may result in first-degree, second-degree, or third-degree felony punishments. In addition to prison sentences and steep fines, healthcare workers may also lose their professional medical license. Also, patients guilty of healthcare fraud may not be eligible for healthcare benefits programs in the future.
The Texas Penal Code criminalizes the fraudulent use or possession of a person's identifying information such as the name, date of birth, fingerprints, or social security number. Identity theft arises when a person uses another's identifying information to transfer money or obtain anything of value without consent. The punishment for identity theft fraud is imposed depending on the number of times the accused fraudulently used the victim's information. When the accused used the victim's information less than 5 times, the offense is a State Jail Felony punishable by imprisonment for 180 days to 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000. The offense becomes a third-degree felony if the information is used more than 5 times but less than 10 times. This is punishable by imprisonment for 2 to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000. The offense is a second-degree felony when the information is used more than 10 but less than 50 times. This is punishable by imprisonment for 2 to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000. If the information is used more than 50 times, the offense becomes a first-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for 5 to 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud occurs when a person fraudulently uses someone else's credit card to obtain financial gain. The offense also involves using a fictitious credit card, stealing or using a stolen credit card, selling another person's credit card, buying a credit card from someone who is not the cardholder, or possessing two or more blank credit cards. The offense is generally a State Jail felony in Corpus Christi punishable by imprisonment for 6 months to 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000. The offense becomes a third-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for 2 to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
This is a white-collar crime that involves acquiring, concealing, or transporting the proceeds of illegal activity. The punishments for money laundering in Corpus Christi depend on the amount of money a person is accused of laundering. The act of laundering $1,500 to $20,000 is a state jail felony that attracts 180 days to 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000. Laundering $20,000 to $100,000 is a third-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for 2 to 10 years and a $10,000 fine. The offense becomes a second-degree felony when the amount is $100,000 to $200,000. This is punishable by imprisonment for 2 to 20 years and a $10,000 fine. The offense is a first-degree felony when the amount is over $100,000. This is punishable by imprisonment for 5 to 99 years and a fine of $10,000.
This offense involves intentionally avoiding a tax obligation imposed by law. Individuals and companies commit tax fraud when they falsify records or transfer assets illegally. The penalties for tax fraud charges depend on the particular offense. Some of the tax fraud charges in Corpus Christi and their penalties include:
In Corpus Christi, insurance fraud occurs when a person intentionally makes a false statement or reports false information to an insurance company to acquire financial gain. The penalty for insurance fraud in Corpus Christi depends on the amount of the false claim. The offense is a misdemeanor if the false claim is less than $2,500. This is punishable by imprisonment for up to a year and a fine of up to $4,000. The offense however becomes a felony if the false claim is of $2,500 or more. Depending on the degree of the felony, the penalties range from 180 days in state prison to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
This is often called a "Ponzi or Pyramid scheme". Under Chapter 17 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code, the offense is defined as “a plan or operation by which a person gives consideration for the opportunity to receive compensation that is derived primarily from a person’s introduction of other persons to participate in the plan or operation rather than from the sale of a product by a person introduced into the plan or operation.” Depending on the size of the operation, an investment fraud charge can result in imprisonment for 6 months to 5 years or more and a fine of up to $10,000.
A white-collar crime lawyer in Corpus Christi is a professional who advises and defends individuals and companies charged with white-collar offenses. Such an attorney works with qualified forensic accountants, investigators, and other experts to provide an effective defense strategy for the accused. A skilled and experienced white-collar crime lawyer usually considers how the prosecution obtained evidence and investigated the alleged white-collar offense. This is necessary to protect the legal rights of the accused and to render the prosecution's illegally obtained evidence inadmissible in court. In defending a white-collar crime case, a white-collar crime lawyer employs different tactics to diminish or dismiss the charges filed against the accused. Some of the common defense strategies for white-collar offenses include:
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is a law that prohibits individuals and companies from offering or paying bribes to foreign officials to obtain and retain business. A foreign official is defined under FCPA as an employee or officer of a foreign government, public international organization, or any person in an official capacity acting on behalf of a foreign government or department. The FCPA contains two articles on accounting and anti-bribery. The accounting provisions mandate individuals and companies to keep accurate books and records and maintain a system of internal accounting controls. These provisions create accounting transparency, making it difficult for individuals and companies to conceal corrupt payments in their business transactions.
On the other hand, the FCPA anti-bribery provisions aim to prohibit corrupt practices, including the offering or payment of bribes to foreign officials. The FCPA regulates the conduct of publicly listed companies in the United States, including their employees, agents, officers, shareholders, and directors. The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforce the FCPA. The enforcement division in the SEC has therefore established a specialized unit to achieve the purpose of the FCPA.
Individuals and businesses that violate the accounting or anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA may face severe criminal and civil sanctions such as restitution, hefty fines, and even jail time for as long as five years. For example, the FCPA stipulates that the intentional bribing of a political official or party candidate is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of not more than $100,000. A convicted individual is also subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000 by the Attorney General. In addition, the court may compel corporations found guilty of violating the provisions of the FCPA to accept the oversight of an independent auditor to ensure future compliance with the Act.
There are several ways to find a white-collar crime lawyer in Corpus Christi. Some of these ways include:
The information may include the attorney’s date of bar admittance, practice areas, and even the attorney's public disciplinary history. The local bar association in Corpus Christi also provides a lawyer referral service that assists individuals and businesses in finding qualified white-collar defense attorneys in the city. The referral service provides the name, contact information, area of specialization, and other relevant details concerning the lawyer.
White-collar crime lawyers in Corpus Christi do not only represent businesses but also individuals including officers, employees, and directors of companies. When hiring a white-collar crime lawyer, it is essential to hire a lawyer who has vast knowledge and experience in how to handle such cases. It is also advisable to read reviews and testimonials from past and present clients to determine the attorney's skill and competence in handling similar cases. In addition, interested persons must consider the attorney’s trial experience.
Finally, the cost of defending a white-collar crime usually depends on several factors, including the location, type of crime in question, the complexity of the case, the average hourly rate in the area, attorney's experience and additional training, duration of the case, the level of investigation, and the number of court appearances that may be required. A white-collar crime lawyer may charge an hourly rate or a flat rate. Additional costs cost may occur depending on other services.