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San Francisco Criminal Defense Attorneys Explain White Collar Crimes

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized


San Francisco Criminal Defense Attorneys Explain White Collar Crimes

White collar crimes are nonviolent crimes committed by business professionals and government employees typically for financial gain. These crimes can carry serious penalties so having an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial. In this article, San Francisco criminal defense attorneys provide an overview of common white collar crimes, potential defenses, and the value of skilled legal representation.

What Are White Collar Crimes?

The term “white collar crime” was coined by sociologist Edwin Sutherland in 1939 to refer to nonviolent crimes committed by corporations and affluent individuals in a professional setting. White collar crimes are motivated by financial gain and abuse of power. They are called “white collar” to distinguish them from violent “blue collar” crimes typically committed by individuals of lower socioeconomic status.

According to the FBI, common white collar crimes include[1]:

  • Fraud (credit card, healthcare, insurance, securities, mortgage, etc.)
  • Embezzlement
  • Bribery
  • Forgery
  • Counterfeiting
  • Cybercrime
  • Money laundering
  • Identity theft
  • Tax evasion

While white collar crimes do not involve direct violence or theft, they can still cause severe financial and emotional damage. San Francisco criminal defense attorney Jayne Law Group explains, “White collar crimes may seem innocuous compared to violent crimes, but they still carry serious penalties and deserve vigorous legal representation.”[2]

White Collar Crime Penalties

Despite being nonviolent offenses, white collar crimes carry stiff penalties. Under federal law, most white collar offenses are felonies punishable by hefty fines and years in prison. For example:

  • Wire fraud – up to 20 years imprisonment and $250,000 fine per count[3]
  • Tax evasion – up to 5 years imprisonment and $100,000 fine per count[4]
  • Money laundering – up to 20 years imprisonment and $500,000 fine per count[5]

Defendants also face asset forfeiture, restitution, and probation. Penalties increase for repeat offenders.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
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Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
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Bee L
Bee L
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Attorney Matt Sullivan explains, “White collar crime sentences often surprise my clients. Even first-time offenses can result in years behind bars. These are not light misdemeanors.”[4]

Common White Collar Crime Defenses

Skilled criminal defense attorneys utilize many strategies to build a strong defense in white collar crime cases. Common defenses include[6]:

Lack of criminal intent – Most white collar crimes require prosecutors to prove you knowingly and intentionally committed fraud or deception. Your lawyer can argue you did not intend to break the law.

Improper financial reporting – In accounting fraud cases, it may be possible to show the financial reports were simply inaccurate or misleading, not intentionally fraudulent.

Entrapment – If law enforcement pressured you into committing a crime you otherwise wouldn’t, an entrapment defense may apply.

Statute of limitations – Most federal white collar crimes have a 5 year statute of limitations. If the crime occurred beyond that, charges may be dismissed.

Jurisdictional challenges – Federal white collar crime jurisdiction requires prosecutors to prove interstate commerce was impacted. Your attorney can argue jurisdiction does not exist.

Constitutional violations – Evidence obtained via illegal search or seizure, or other constitutional breach, can be suppressed on Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment grounds.

Necessity/duress – It may be possible to argue you only committed the crime out of necessity or because of threats.

An experienced white collar crime lawyer like Seth P. Chazin can analyze the facts of your case to determine which defenses give you the best chance of an acquittal or mitigated sentence. [6]

Why Hire a White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney?

Facing white collar criminal charges can be overwhelming. The financial penalties and reputation damage alone can destroy careers and livelihoods. For the best chance at minimizing penalties, experts recommend hiring an experienced white collar crime lawyer immediately.

Criminal defense attorneys like Hallinan & Wine offer many advantages, such as[5]:

  • Expertise – They have extensive knowledge of complex white collar crime laws and courtroom experience.
  • Objectivity – They provide an unbiased perspective to balance the prosecution’s accusations.
  • Resources – They have teams of legal professionals to build a strong defense.
  • Negotiation – They can negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges or sentencing leniency.
  • Trial skills – If necessary, they have the litigation experience to take your case to trial.
  • Peace of mind – Their guidance helps clients get through the legal process with less stress.

When choosing an attorney, it is wise to look for someone experienced specifically in white collar defense cases. Lawyers like John J. Bartko who specialize in white collar crimes often get better results. [1]

Examples of White Collar Crimes

To better understand white collar crimes, here are examples San Francisco criminal defense attorneys commonly see:


Embezzlement involves stealing money or assets from an employer. It often starts small, with an employee taking extra money from the cash register, and grows over time. Common examples include:

  • Company accountant steals from expense accounts
  • Bank manager diverts client funds into personal account
  • Nonprofit treasurer uses organization funds for herself

Defense strategies may include arguing the money was borrowed with intent to repay, or someone else had access to the funds.

Tax Evasion

Tax evasion is illegally avoiding paying owed taxes, such as by deliberately underreporting income, overstating deductions, hiding assets, or using shell corporations. Common examples include:

  • Business owner maintains two sets of books to hide income
  • Individual fails to report cash income from side jobs
  • Corporation conceals overseas assets from the IRS

Possible defenses are showing a lack of intent, financial mistakes rather than fraud, or relying on a dishonest tax preparer.

Money Laundering

Money laundering hides the source of illegally obtained money by filtering it through legitimate businesses. Examples include:

  • Drug traffickers invest dirty money in cash-based businesses like restaurants
  • Online scammers route stolen funds through layers of bank accounts
  • Corporate executives disguise bribe money as consulting fees

Defense lawyers scrutinize the paper trail to show legitimate sources, improper financial reporting, or lack of criminal knowledge.

Securities Fraud

Securities fraud is deceiving investors to gain investment funds or manipulate stock prices. Examples include:

  • Company falsifies financial data to appear profitable for investors
  • Stockbroker churns client accounts to generate excess commissions
  • CEO makes false statements to boost stock price before selling shares

Securities fraud cases often come down to proving intent and knowledge. Defenses focus on good faith mistakes, ambiguous regulations, and lack of intent.

Consult with a White Collar Crime Attorney

Facing white collar crime charges can be daunting. But an experienced criminal defense attorney can thoroughly analyze your case’s strengths and weaknesses and build an aggressive defense to achieve the best possible outcome. For personalized guidance from a top San Francisco white collar crime lawyer, contact:

  • John J. Bartko – [1]
  • Jayne Law Group – [2]
  • Matt Sullivan – [4]
  • Hallinan & Wine – [5]
  • Seth P. Chazin – [6]

They will protect your rights, devise an effective legal strategy, and fight to mitigate penalties so you can move forward. With skilled legal representation, many clients avoid prison time and preserve their livelihoods despite serious allegations. Don’t go it alone against complex white collar crime charges.

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