The white collar crime defense attorneys at Oberheiden P.C. represent companies, firms, and individuals in Silicon Valley who have been charged with a white collar offense or who suspect that they are under investigation. These offenses carry substantial penalties for a conviction, and are prosecuted by federal law enforcement agencies, which have an overwhelming amount of resources at their disposal.
The Many Different Types of White Collar Crimes
The term “white collar crime” covers a huge assortment of criminal offenses. The only thing that they all have in common is that they are financial in nature. Many of them involve fraudulent conduct, which is intentionally deceitful behavior that is meant to defraud another person or institution.
Our attorneys have experience defending against all of these types of charges in Silicon Valley.
Companies in Silicon Valley have been under increased scrutiny for antitrust violations because of the perception that they are harming consumers by having too much market share in certain industries. While allegations like these against technology or social media companies are novel, they also come with significant penalties.
But monopolies are not the only things that antitrust law prohibits. Silicon Valley companies can also be accused of antitrust violations for other types of anti-competitive behavior, like:
- Making agreements to not compete with other companies
Bank fraud is the crime of using fraud against a financial institution. It covers a wide variety of behavior, including:
- Forging a signature on a loan application
- Check kiting
- Altering checks
- Using a stolen identity to get a line of credit or a loan
The penalties of a conviction for bank fraud are severe. To make matters worse, bank fraud is often filed alongside other offenses, like:
- Check fraud
- Identify theft
These additional offenses are often crimes at the state level. Some bank fraud defendants may find themselves facing multiple criminal charges filed by several different state and federal law enforcement agencies.
Computer fraud is the federal crime of using a computer to either take or alter data, or to gain unlawful access to another computer or a computer system. This can include hacking or spreading malware to infect other computers in order to demand a ransom payment to fix them. As one of the most important technology hubs in the entire world, Silicon Valley sees a disproportionate number of charges filed for computer fraud.
Conspiracy is perhaps the most commonly charged white collar crime because it does not even need a criminal event to happen. So long as more than one person agreed to commit a white collar crime and an act was done in furtherance of that agreement, everyone involved may find themselves being accused of partaking in a criminal conspiracy to commit a white collar crime.
There are a host of unique financial crimes, like:
- Mortgage fraud
- Theft by false pretenses
Generally, they involve some sort of fraudulent activity that is designed to deceive someone into handing over money. Unfortunately, some innocent or even common business transactions may appear to be a financial crime, leading to innocent professionals getting accused of a serious criminal offense.
Healthcare fraud is the criminal act of defrauding a healthcare program. This can happen in a wide variety of different ways, from:
- Providing medical services that are not necessary
- Unbundling procedures or services that are normally charged together at a discount
- Falsifying patient records to support a medically unnecessary procedure
- Double billing
Defrauding a public healthcare program, like Medicare or Medicaid, will get some powerful federal agencies involved, like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG), and potentially the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Using fraud or deceit to get insurance coverage or to file a claim for compensation can amount to insurance fraud. While this often happens in the healthcare field, it can also involve other forms of insurance coverage, like:
- Business liability insurance
- Car insurance
- Homeowner’s insurance
- Malpractice insurance
- Soliciting investment through the fraudulent misrepresentation or omission of material information
- Insider trading
- Investment fraud
Allegations like these are especially common in Silicon Valley, where numerous startups need investors to get their companies off the ground.
When the SEC investigates allegations of these types of conduct, it can lead to severe financial penalties and a bar from trading securities in the future. If the investigation uncovers potentially criminal conduct, the SEC will pass the evidence on to other agencies, who may then file criminal charges for a white collar crime.
Tax fraud and tax evasion are also considered federal white collar crimes. When filers undervalue their assets, do not report income, or incorrectly use deductions to reduce their tax liability, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may initiate a tax fraud investigation.
If fraudulent activity is done using a telecommunications service, like a phone or the internet, it can be wire fraud. Convictions for wire fraud carry up to 20 years in prison, in addition to the penalties for the type of fraud that was actually committed.
Frequently Asked Questions About White Collar Crime in Silicon Valley
Can Civil Cases Turn Into Criminal Investigations?
Yes, many criminal allegations of white collar crimes begin as civil or even as administrative proceedings. This may happen when, for example, a healthcare fraud investigation under the False Claims Act finds evidence that what had appeared to be an erroneous practice of overbilling a healthcare program was actually a fraudulent one. If this happens, the potential penalties increase substantially. In civil claims, only money is at issue. If the case becomes a criminal one, prison time becomes a possibility.
Preventing this from happening is essential. The skilled defense lawyers from Oberheiden P.C. have helped numerous clients clear up an investigation before it could escalate like this.
What Triggers a White Collar Crime Investigation?
Civil investigations into erroneous but non-criminal conduct can quickly trigger a white collar crime investigation if evidence is found that the conduct was not accidental. However, whistleblowers are also frequent initiators of a criminal investigation into a potential financial or white collar offense. In highly-competitive markets and environments like Silicon Valley, this can present a serious concern: Disgruntled former employees, clients, or even competitors may funnel damning information about a company to law enforcement agencies in an attempt to trigger an investigation that hurts the company for their own benefit, be it vengeance or profit.
What are the Penalties of a White Collar Crime Conviction?
Because there are numerous different types of white collar crimes, the penalties can vary widely. Different cases may carry different penalties because they violated different federal laws, each of which is punished differently. However, there are three general types of penalties that are on the table in white collar offenses:
- Professional sanctions
- Financial penalties
- Prison time
An example of a professional sanction is for securities fraud. Securities professionals need to be licensed by the SEC to practice. A conviction for securities fraud can lead the SEC to strip the license away from the defendant and ban them from trading securities ever again.
The financial penalties of a conviction for a white collar crime are often substantial. They generally include the disgorgement of any funds obtained through the illegal conduct, plus a fine, plus payment of any interest the money would have earned. Many cases that we defend involve over a million dollars.
There is also the potential for prison time. Most federal white collar crimes are felony offenses. Felonies are crimes that carry the potential for more than one year in prison. However, serious white collar offenses can carry upwards of 20 years in prison or more.
Why Doesn’t Oberheiden P.C. Call Itself the Best White Collar Crime Defense Firm?
Because we prefer to let the experience of our lawyers and the details of our case results speak for themselves. Many of our attorneys were white collar prosecutors before joining our defense firm. This gives them an intimate and incredibly valuable understanding of how a federal white collar investigation will likely proceed. That helps them craft an effective defense strategy that puts you or your firm in a strong position for the future, rather than merely reacting to what the investigation finds. Because of this proactive approach, we have a long track record of success in defending clients in white collar cases.
Oberheiden P.C.: White Collar Crime Defense in Silicon Valley
Federal white collar crimes are serious. They come with heavy financial penalties and the potential for decades in prison. Raising effective legal defenses against a white collar crime charge is essential. If no charge has been filed, but there are rumors of an investigation, hiring a white collar crime defense lawyer to minimize you or your firm’s exposure can make a huge difference.
The lawyers at Oberheiden P.C. can help. Our extensive experience as both prosecutors and defense lawyers in white collar cases helps our clients by predicting law enforcement’s next moves. This lets us see what the best long-term defense strategy will be.
Call Oberheiden P.C. at 888-680-1745 or contact them online for the legal help that you need.