Sociologist and criminologist Edwin Sutherland coined the phrase “white-collar crime” in the 1930s and used it to describe the types of crimes commonly committed by “persons of respectability” or people who are recognized as possessing a high social status. Before the phrase became commonplace, it was widely assumed that people in the upper classes of society were largely incapable of criminal activity.

White collar crimes have become much more frequent in recent years, and many people are well aware of some of the more prominent names of individuals charged with major white collar crimes. All of that said, the idea that white-collar criminals only receive slaps on the wrists for alleged behavior is wildly inaccurate, as many of these types of offenses actually carry very steep penalties that can include several years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

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White Collar Crime Defense Lawyer in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and Southlake, TX

If you were arrested or think that you might be under investigation for a white collar crime in Tarrant County, do not say anything to authorities without a criminal defense lawyer. A criminal defense attorney will be the most important aspect of beginning to formulate your defense.

The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can aggressively defend you against your charges and will fight to possibly get those charges either reduced or dismissed. We will be happy to fully review your case and discuss all of your options with you when you call (817) 422-5350 or contact our firm online to set up a consultation.

Common White Collar Crimes in Texas

White collar crimes are usually considered nonviolent and illegal activities that involve deceit, manipulation, breach of trust, or concealment. Often the victims of white-collar crimes have been so minimally affected, that they don’t even realize a crime has been committed against them. Some of the most common white-collar crimes are listed below:

According to Texas Penal Code § 32.21, an individual can be charged with forgery if they alter, make, complete, execute, or authenticate writing with the intent to defraud or harm another person. This offense is generally punishable as a Class A misdemeanor, state jail felony, or felony of the third degree.

Insurance fraud is defined by Texas Penal Code § 35.02. An individual can be charged with insurance fraud if they commit an act in support of a claim for payment under an insurance policy with the intent to defraud or deceive an insurer. This offense can result in a conviction ranging from a Class C misdemeanor to a felony of the first degree.

An individual can be charged with credit card fraud under Texas Penal Code § 32.31 if they:

  • Present a credit card or debit card with the intent to obtain some benefit knowing the card was not his and without the consent of the owner,
  • Present a credit or debit card with the intent to obtain some benefit knowing the card was expired, revoked, or canceled,
  • Use a fake credit or debit card or fake credit or debit card number with the intent to obtain a benefit,
  • Knowingly receives a benefit from credit card fraud,
  • Steal a credit or debit card,
  • Knowingly receiving a stolen credit card with the intent to use it, sell it, or give it to another person who is not the rightful owner,
  • Buy a credit or debit card from a person he knows is not the issuer of the credit card,
  • Sell a credit or debit card and is not the issuer of the card,
  • Use a credit or debit card for his own benefit the rightful cardholder is financially unable to pay,
  • Possess a credit or debit card with the intent to use it when he is not the rightful owner and does not have the rightful owner’s consent, and/or
  • Possess two or more incomplete credit or debit cards that have not been issued to him with the intent to complete the cards without the owner’s consent.

This offense is generally punishable as a state jail felony or a felony of the third degree.

According to Texas Penal Code § 32.51, an individual can be charged with identity theft if they obtain, possess, transfer, or use any of the following with the intent to harm or defraud another person:

  • Identifying information of another person without their consent,
  • A deceased person’s information that would be identifying if they were alive, and/or
  • Identifying information of a person who is younger than 18 years old.

This offense is generally punishable as a state jail felony, felony of the third degree, a felony of the second degree, or felony of the first degree.

An individual can be charged with money laundering under Texas Penal Code § 34.02 if they knowingly:

  • Acquire or maintain an interest in, conceal, possess, transfer, or transport the proceeds of criminal activity;
  • Conduct, supervise, or facilitate a transaction involving the proceeds of criminal activity;
  • Invest, expend, receive, or offer to invest, expend, or receive the proceeds of criminal activity or funds they believe are the proceeds of criminal activity; or
  • Finance or invest, or intend to finance or invest funds they believe are intended to further the commission of criminal activity.

This offense is generally punishable as a state jail felony, felony of the third degree, a felony of the second degree, or felony of the first degree.

Because white-collar crime is often committed by businessmen, much of corporate crime is also white-collar crime. But the reverse is not true – not all white-collar crime is corporate crime. A few of the more common examples of the overlap between white-collar and corporate crime include:

  • Manipulating the stock market
  • Embezzling company money and misappropriating corporate funds
  • Bribing public officials

Both white-collar and corporate crimes are almost always non-violent crimes of fraud and deception. Because these crimes are often committed privately, they lack the visceral shock value of street crimes like murder or armed robbery.

The main difference between white-collar and corporate crime is who benefits from the illegal activity. White-collar crime is almost always profitable for the individual engaging in such crime. On the other hand, corporate crime ultimately proves profitable for the corporation, regardless of who is committing the crime.

One key element of many white collar crimes is proving that one defendant is liable for the behavior of another actor, whether that other actor is a person or a corporation. This is because oftentimes the defendant has engaged in a criminal action on behalf of another person (such as his boss) or a corporation.

Under federal law, a corporation may be liable for the actions of its employees, under the theory of “Respondeat Superior.” If any employee was acting within the scope of his duties, on behalf of the corporation, and the company had knowledge that the activity was criminal (either through one employee, or the collective knowledge of all of its employees), then the corporation may be liable for the employee’s criminal act.

Texas’s rules are a little different. Under Texas Penal Code § 7.22, a corporation may only be responsible for the actions of an employee if:

  • The employee was acting within the scope of his duties; and
  • The employee was acting on behalf of the corporation; and
  • The crime is defined (in the penal code or other law) as a strict liability crime or one that applies to corporations; or
  • The act was authorized or requested by a majority of the Board of Directors or a high managerial agent, like the CEO.

However, under Texas Penal Code § 7.02, responsibility for the crimes of another is defined broadly. A person may be liable for another person’s actions if he

  • Forces them to perform the act;
  • Solicits, attempts to aid, aid or encourage the act; or
  • Has a legal duty to prevent/stop the act, and does not.

Therefore, under Texas law, it is very likely that one employee will be held liable for another employee’s actions. However, it is less likely that the company the employee works for will be held liable for the employee’s action. Under Federal law, there is a greater possibility that a corporation will be held responsible for its employee’s actions.

Another common element of many white-collar crimes is a conspiracy. This is because high-level white collar crimes are very seldom carried out by a single person. Oftentimes several actors will agree to commit a crime, and the prosecutor will seek to charge them all.

Under most conspiracy laws (both state and federal), prosecutors must show four elements to prove a conspiracy:

  • An agreement
  • An unlawful purpose
  • Knowledge and intent
  • An overt act towards achieving the goal of the conspiracy – the crime need not actually be committed

Under Texas Penal Code § 15.02, if you are convicted of conspiracy, your sentence will be 1 level lower than the level of the crime that was the object of the conspiracy. For example, if you are convicted of conspiring to commit a 1st-degree felony, you will be punished as though you committed a second-degree felony – even if no actual crime was ever committed.

A conspiracy is a favorite tool of the modern prosecutor. Virtually any crime can be charged as a conspiracy, and doing so offers the prosecutor special advantages, including the opportunity to use each conspirator’s statements against the others. Prosecutors may also try to cut deals with some of the conspirators, in exchange for their testimony against the others.

If you have been charged with conspiracy, you should not attempt to contact or communicate with the other alleged conspirators or the police. You should contact an experienced attorney immediately.

White Collar Crime Definitions

While there is no section of the Texas Penal Code called “White Collar Crimes,” most white collar crimes would fall under the Code’s section on fraud offenses. While the statute goes into detail about every element of every specific type of fraud crime, the legal concept of fraud generally requires a couple of factors:

  • A person knowingly makes a misrepresentation of material fact;
  • The misrepresentation is directed toward someone who justifiably relies on that misrepresentation; and
  • The person relying on the misrepresentation suffers an actual injury or loss due to that reliance.

White collar fraud crimes in Texas include things such as making forgeries, trademark counterfeiting, dealing in stolen checks, or making false statements to obtain a loan. Punishment for these crimes in Texas is based on the value of the property improperly obtained.

Texas Penal Code § 32.01(2) defines property as:

  • Real property;
  • Tangible or intangible personal property including anything severed from the land; or
  • A document, including money, that represents or embodies anything of value.

Value is defined under Texas Penal Code as the fair market value of the property or service at the time and place of the offense, or if the fair market value of the property cannot be ascertained, the cost of replacing the property within a reasonable time after the offense. When a document does not have a readily ascertainable market value and constitutes evidence of a debt, the value is the amount due and collectible at maturity less any part that has been satisfied. When the document is other than evidence of a debt, the value is the greatest amount of economic loss that the owner might reasonably suffer by virtue of the loss of the document.

Under Texas Penal Code § 32.01(3), service is defined as:

  • Labor and professional service;
  • Telecommunication, public utility, and transportation service;
  • Lodging, restaurant service, and entertainment; and
  • The supply of a motor vehicle or other property for use.

Embezzlement is another common type of white collar crime. Where fraud is based on misrepresentation, embezzlement is based on the betrayal of trust. In Texas, embezzlement falls under the state’s general theft statute which defines the elements of the offense as:

  • Unlawful appropriation of property with intent to deprive the owner of the property.
  • Appropriation is unlawful if it is without the owner’s effective consent or it is appropriated and the actor knows it is stolen property.

In the context of embezzlement, this usually means that a person was entrusted with property and then took, spent, or used the property without the owner’s consent. For instance, an office worker that, without permission, takes from petty cash, uses credit cards or company checks for personal reasons, issues fake loans, or creates fake accounts to transfer money to, could be guilty of theft in Texas.

Fort Worth White Collar Crime Resources

White-Collar Crime | — The FBI’s white-collar crime work integrates the analysis of intelligence with its investigations of criminal activities such as public corruption, money laundering, corporate fraud, securities, and commodities fraud, mortgage fraud, financial institution fraud, bank fraud, and embezzlement, fraud against the government, election law violations, mass marketing fraud, and health care fraud. FBI special agents work closely with partner law enforcement and regulatory agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, among others, targeting sophisticated, multi-layered fraud cases that harm the economy. Read more about corporate fraud, falsification of financial information, self-dealing by corporate insiders, and fraud in connection with an otherwise legitimately operated mutual hedge fund.

White Collar Crime Prof Blog  View white collar criminal law resources, information, and news for the academic community. The blog is edited by Ellen S. Podgor with assistance from Lucian E. Dervan, Lawrence S. Goldman, and Solomon L. Wisenberg. Resources here include links to legal websites, teaching, and organizations.

Find A Tarrant County Defense Attorney for White Collar Crimes | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy

Were you arrested or do you believe that you could be under investigation for an alleged white collar crime in the Fort Worth area? You absolutely must be sure to retain legal counsel as soon as humanly possible. 

The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy handles all kinds of white collar criminal cases in North Texas and will be able to work out the most favorable possible outcome for your case. You can have us sit down with you and go over every single aspect of your case as soon as you call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to receive a consultation.

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