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Phoenix White Collar Crime Attorney

Have you or a loved one been arrested or charged with a white collar crime in Phoenix, Arizona? Don’t hesitate to contact Orent Law Offices, APC for immediate assistance with your defense. Our experienced Phoenix white collar crime defense lawyers know that your future is at stake. That’s why we’ll do everything we can to protect it. Give us a quick call today to set up a free case assessment and learn more.

What Is White Collar Crime?

White collar crimes can have a devastating impact on both individuals and businesses. Further, these types of crimes reportedly cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars per year. Unlike violent crimes or other illicit activities involving force, such as robbery or aggravated assault, white collar crimes involve some form of deceit or violation of trust. This breach typically occurs in a business relationship and is committed for financial gain.

Now, the name “white collar” comes from the fact that the majority of these crimes are committed by individuals working in business or for the government. The white collar crime category includes many different types of offenses, on both the state and federal levels. These cases can be quite complex and carry with them the possibility of significant life-altering penalties. For these reasons, if you are facing criminal charges, it is essential to have a law firm with an experienced white collar crimes lawyer on your side.

Types of White Collar Crimes

The term “white collar crime” is very broad. In fact, the category encompasses many illegal activities, often involving fraud. Note that the state of Arizona law does not specifically define white collar crime, but the state does criminalize a number of acts that fall under this category.

Some examples of white collar crimes include:

  • Bribery
  • Counterfeiting
  • Computer/internet crimes
  • Copyright infringement
  • Embezzlement
  • Extortion
  • Forgery
  • Insider trading
  • Identity theft
  • Money laundering
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Racketeering
  • Unemployment fraud, and
  • Tax fraud/evasion.

The penalties for white collar criminals differ depending on the particular charges. In Phoenix, Arizona, some of the more common white collar crimes are identity theft, forgery, and insurance fraud. Due to the frequent nature in which these crimes are committed, we’ll explore each in depth below.

Identity Theft

Using another person’s personally identifiable information without their consent in order to commit fraud is a crime in Phoenix, AZ. This is referred to as identity theft, and the information used may be a person’s name or social security number.

The fraud component could include actions such as:

  • Opening a credit card or bank account
  • Making purchases under a victim’s name
  • Obtaining a loan
  • Purchasing a vehicle
  • Renting an apartment
  • Obtaining utilities in the victim’s name, or
  • Impersonating the victim while talking to law enforcement.

Now, one of the more common forms of identity theft is using someone’s credit card without their permission. An example would be if you found a lost card on the sidewalk and used it or attempt to use it at a store. Identity theft is considered a class 4 felony, and you may receive a prison sentence of up to 3 years and/or a fine of up to $150,000.

Arizona law also recognizes what is known as “aggravated identity theft.” This occurs in one of three scenarios:

  • Where the person knowingly gets the personal identifying information of three or more people
  • Where the victim experiences more than $1,000 in economic loss, or
  • Where the victim’s identity is used with the intent to obtain employment.

Note that the penalty for aggravated identity theft is more severe. It is considered as a class 3 felony and you could face up to 7 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $150,000.

In Arizona, the most serious offense related to identity theft is what is called “identity tracking.” This crime occurs when someone sells, transmits, or transfers the personally identifiable information of another person. Identity tracking is a class 2 felony and carries a maximum prison term of 10 years.

Obtaining a Credit Card by Fraudulent Means

It is also a crime in Arizona to steal or possess a stolen credit card, or to obtain someone else’s card through “fraudulent means.” Taking through fraudulent means would include actions such as theft or using extortion to gain possession of the card. But, it would also include selling or transferring someone else’s card without their consent. An example would be selling the card on the black market.

It’s important to note that you don’t need to actually use a stolen credit card to purchase anything to be found guilty of this crime. The law is only focused on the means in which you obtained the card. This crime is considered a class 5 felony in Arizona and carries a maximum prison term of 2 years and/or a fine of up to $150,000.

Forgery and Counterfeiting

The crime of forgery, also known as counterfeiting, involves the act of creating, completing or altering a document with the intention of defrauding someone. One of the most common examples of forgery is when someone steals a checkbook and tries to pass a check from it.

Note that you don’t need to create a forged instrument yourself to be charged with forgery. As long as you knowingly possess one of these instruments you have violated the law. This might be the case, for example, if you paid someone to create a fake document. In many ways, it’s easier to be convicted of this type of forgery because the prosecution need not prove that you actually created the document.

In Arizona, forgery is considered a class 4 felony. This carries a potential prison term of up to 3 years. However, keep in mind that the penalty goes up if the forged document was used in the process of purchasing, leasing, or renting a property that is used as a “drop house.”

A drop house is a location used to facilitate the act of smuggling people into the country who are not United States citizens or otherwise not lawfully allowed in the U.S. This is considered a class 3 felony and carries with it a maximum prison term of up to 7 years and/or a fine of up to $150,000.

Insurance Fraud

Under state law, it’s a crime to make untrue statements and to conceal material facts to your insurance company on documents you submit to them. This would include the initial application, as well as any renewals or claims for payments. As long as you are attempting to obtain money you are not actually entitled to receive, you are in violation of the law.

For example, assume you are the victim of theft in a robbery incident that occurs in your home. Let’s say you have a homeowners insurance policy that covers theft and you file a claim with the insurer. If you exaggerate the value of the property that was stolen, this would be considered insurance fraud. Another example would be if you faked your own death so that your loved one’s could collect on a life insurance policy.

Now, insurance companies can also be guilty of insurance fraud. One way is by refusing to pay out on a policy to a beneficiary that legally qualifies for payment. These matters can be complicated, so it might be helpful to speak with a defense lawyer that can help answer any questions you may have.

Insurance fraud perpetrated by an individual is considered a class 6 felony in Arizona. This carries a potential prison term of up to 2 years and/or a fine of up to $150,000.

Unemployment Fraud

If you are applying for or collecting unemployment benefits, it’s a felony to give false or inaccurate information to the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES).

This offense includes the following actions:

  • Making false statements on your unemployment insurance (UI) claim
  • Returning to work while still collecting benefits
  • Working part-time and not reporting income, and
  • Withholding any other material fact from the Arizona DES.

Phoenix unemployment fraud is considered a class 6 felony in Arizona. This can lead to a prison term of up to 2 years, 3 years of probation, and a fine of $150,000.

Note that a separate offense occurs each time you make a false claim. This can lead to multiple charges being filed against you and can quickly increase the amount of prison time and fines you face. So, it is important to have a Phoenix criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling these types of  cases on your side.

Talk to a White Collar Crime Attorney Today

If you are charged with a white collar crime, you don’t have to go it alone. It’s your right to have an attorney represent you throughout the process. White collar crimes are a serious matter than can lead to devastating penalties. Make sure you have a qualified Phoenix criminal defense attorney on your side.

Contact the Orent Law Offices, APC to schedule a free consultation. Our experienced white collar criminal defense attorneys would be happy to review your case, explain your rights, and answer any questions that you might have. It’s important to get started on your defense as early as possible, so don’t hesitate to reach out to our law firm for help today.