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White Collar Crimes

Legal Elements of Fraud

By Peek & Toland on May 30, 2020

Texas law outlines various types of fraud that constitute crimes. Generally, fraud occurs when individuals deliberately deceive others for personal or financial gain. People who commit fraud typically use false or purposely misleading statements to obtain money, property, or services.

One common type of fraud is forgery under Tex. Pen. Code § 32.21. Individuals commit fraud when they forge writing to harm or defraud others. Forgery includes altering a document or creating a false document altogether. The level of the resulting charges depends on the value of the goods obtained through the forgery.

Legal Elements of Fraud

Credit or debit card fraud or abuse is a crime of fraud under Tex. Pen. Code § 32.31. This offense includes such actions as:

  • Using an expired credit card or a card belonging to someone else without consent
  • Using a fictitious credit or debit card
  • Stealing a credit card with the intent to use, sell, or transfer it to someone other than its owner
  • Possessing a credit card without the owner’s consent and with the intent to use it

Credit card fraud is a State jail felony under Texas law that could result in a sentence of incarceration ranging from 180 days to two years and a $10,000 fine.

Individuals also may commit another form of fraud called fraudulent transfer of a motor vehicle under Tex. Pen. Code § 32.34. In this type of fraud, persons take possession of a motor vehicle belonging to another with the intent to transfer it to a third party. However, the criminal element of this offense occurs when they transfer the vehicle without obtaining authorization from any lienholders or do so to harm or defraud the owner. 

If you or a family member is facing any criminal charges, we may be able to help. As experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through often-complex criminal proceedings. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment with one of our criminal defense lawyers and learn how we can assist you.

Posted in White Collar Crimes

How can a criminal defense attorney help you if you’re served with a federal subpoena?

By Peek & Toland on May 28, 2020

This is Part 1 of a four-part series on the steps to take if you are served a federal subpoena.

I’m often asked, how can I, as a criminal defense attorney help an individual or a business when they do need to respond to a federal subpoena? It’s a really critical role that a good criminal defense attorney plays.

First and foremost, you want to reach out immediately and you want to narrow the scope.

Oftentimes, federal agents and us attorneys, they’re busy. Maybe they’re in a different jurisdiction, they’re in a different state and they ask a local jurisdiction to send out and they send out a blanket request for as much information as they can. They may not know everything they’re looking or what you have. They just know that somehow your business has tangentially or somehow unbeknownst to you, come in contact with the target of what they’re focused on or who the person whom they’re focused on. And so for that, the first thing I would do is I reach out and I start a conversation about what it is they’re looking for exactly. And you want to be very specific. So, I’m very experienced at that and I know how to do that.

After doing that, then we’ll put together a team on how to respond. And so we want to be very careful in how we do that. We don’t want to provide more information than is necessary for obvious reasons.

You might run afoul of other federal laws or other privacy, state laws, and you also don’t want to share personal, private information of your client base or others that you do business with if you don’t need to. But you also want to comply with the subpoena as quickly as you can, because you want to get this problem in the rearview mirror. It’s probably interrupting your business in your life. And so that’s part of the job of a good experienced criminal defense attorney.

And then as you put this team together, you want to be very careful about who you trust in your business to do that, if it’s not you. And you want to be mindful of the fact that even though you’re just responding to document production, let’s say, your footprint is everywhere. Your digital footprint in this case is everywhere.

At some point if the federal government were to come back and actually seize your computers, they could do a forensic mapping of your computer system and find out all the places you went and where you kept documents. Well, unbeknownst to you, you might be accidentally running a foul of the way you keep documents or records or you might actually have the government start finding out things that you didn’t necessarily think the government needed to know about. They weren’t necessarily illegal, but you’re just inviting trouble.

So you need a clear strategy from the beginning when you meet with your management team on how you’re going to collect these documents, where you’re going to simulate them and how you’re going to get them over to the government.

A good attorney will do a good job of finding out the exact deadlines, the specifics that government is looking for, and make sure that once that’s over that there’s an agreement that the investigation is over.

In other words, you want to find out at the very beginning, all the things the government expects to get from you, what they need from you, and then you want to limit that and shut that down so you can get back to focusing on your personal life and your business. That’s just a small snapshot of all the different ways we can help you.

If you do find yourself in a situation where the government has sent you a subpoena or the government has asked you to produce things, in person or, or otherwise. If you need help with this, please reach out to us. We’ve been here for 20 years. We know exactly how to handle this. Thank you.

Posted in Criminal Defense, White Collar Crimes

White-Collar Crime Prosecutions Hit 33-Year Low

By Peek & Toland on May 9, 2020

According to a recent CBS news article, the federal government is on track to prosecute the lowest number of white-collar crime cases in at least 33 years. White-collar crime prosecutions fell 8.5% from 2018 to 2019, and over the past eight years, have fallen by 50%. For the federal fiscal year 2019, white-collar crime cases comprised only three percent of the over 170,000 total federal criminal prosecutions. In contrast, during the 1980s and 1990s, the federal government regularly filed over 10,000 white-collar crime prosecutions per year.

Although the number of federal white-collar crime cases has fallen precipitously during  the fiscal year 2017, the decline started during the 2012 – 2016 period. White-collar criminal prosecutions peaked in 2011 and have been dropping ever since. When looking at punishments levied in white-collar crime cases, however, fines against corporations dropped significantly beginning in the latter half of 2017. While some say that corporate wrongdoing may have decreased, others believe that it is more likely that there is simply less enforcement of the criminal acts that exist.

White-Collar Crime Prosecutions Hit 33-Year Low

Another consideration is that many complex white-collar crime investigations may be drawn out for years before federal prosecutors file formal criminal charges. These delays often result in prosecutions that do not occur until several years have passed or until a specific administration has left office. Therefore, current prosecution rates do not always reflect the priorities of the current administration.

Relative to the populations of their states, federal prosecutors in Rhode Island, New York City, and Miami pursued more white-collar crimes than in other jurisdictions. The top white-collar criminal charges that federal prosecutors filed were wire fraud, bank fraud, mail fraud, and identity theft.

An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case and explore your options. We then can help you make the decisions that are mostly like to be beneficial to you based on your situation. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

Posted in White Collar Crimes

What Are the Penalties for Tampering with Evidence in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on May 7, 2019

Tex. Pen. Code § 37.09 addresses the most common type of tampering with evidence. This criminal offense can take many forms, but tampering with evidence involves intentionally destroying, concealing, or altering physical items so that they are unavailable and cannot be used as evidence in any criminal proceedings. In order to commit this offense, you must be aware that a police investigation is occurring or ongoing. Some examples of tampering with physical evidence might include:

  • Throwing drugs out of the car or swallowing them as police approach you
  • Moving or hiding a body following a murder
  • Tossing a gun into a body of water or the trash after using it in a robbery
  • Deleting computer files, attempting to destroy a computer, or hiding portable storage media when police are investigating you for a crime

Another variation of tampering with evidence under this code section involves creating, presenting, or using a document with the knowledge that is false to try to alter the outcome of a criminal investigation.

Tampering with evidence generally is a third-degree felony under Texas law. A conviction for a third-degree felony can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years and a $10,000 fine.

However, the offense becomes a second-degree felony if individuals tamper or attempt to conceal a human corpse. A second-degree felony conviction may result in as many as 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Furthermore, it is a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine, for individuals to discover and fail to report a human corpse to law enforcement authorities, if they know or reasonably should know that the authorities are unaware of the corpse.

When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the outset of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case has progressed. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team. intment

Posted in Criminal Defense, Theft Crimes, White Collar Crimes

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Types of Bribery Under Texas Law

By Peek & Toland on April 4, 2019

In general, bribery includes offering someone, who is often a public official, money or some other benefit in exchange for using their discretion to benefit the individual offering the bribe in some way. Likewise, bribery also is an offense committed by a public official or other person with a legal or public duty to provides services when he or she agrees to accept or accepts a bribe. Under Tex. Pen. Code § 36.02, bribery occurs when individuals intentionally offer, confer, or agree to confer on another, or solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept from another:

·         Any benefit as consideration for the recipient’s vote, decision, or recommendation as a public servant, party official, or voter,

·         Any benefit as consideration for the recipient’s decision or vote in a judicial or administrative proceeding,

·         Any benefit as consideration for a public servant or party official to violate a duty, or

·         Political contributions pursuant to an agreement to take or withhold a specific exercise of official discretion, which otherwise the recipient would not have taken or withheld

 

Types of Bribery Under Texas Law

This offense covers a broad variety of situations, including offering a police officer money when pulled over for speeding in exchange for giving you a warning rather than a ticket, or threatening to harm a witness if he or she testifies in a court proceeding. Bribery is a second-degree felony under Texas law.

Texas law provides for various other criminal offenses that are similar to and often occur in conjunction with bribery. These offenses include coercion of public servants or voters, improper influence, tampering with a witness, and obstruction or retaliation. These offenses vary in severity from Class A misdemeanors for coercion of a voter to second-degree felonies for individuals who harm or threaten harm jurors or inflict bodily injury on public servants or their household members.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges, including charges involving bribery. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

Posted in White Collar Crimes

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What are the Different Types of Fraud?

By Peek & Toland on November 9, 2018

In general, fraud is an intentional attempt to deceive another person, typically for financial personal gain. Fraud often involves the usage of misleading statements or false information in order to gain access to money, goods, services, information, or credit. Most commonly, fraud occurs when individuals use dishonest tactics to deprive others of money or other property that rightfully belongs to them.

For the most part, fraud offenses are non-violent crimes; thus, many refer to these crimes as white-collar crimes. However, in the event that the fraudulent scheme involves the use of firearms or results in serious bodily injury or death to another, the charges and penalties predictably become more severe.

 

What Are the Different Types of Fraud?

Texas Penal Code Chapter 32 defines several different types of fraud-related criminal offenses and their potential penalties. Each crime is categorized according to the specific type of fraud that it involves. Some of the different crimes classified as fraud under Texas law include the following:

·         Forgery

·         Making false statements to obtain property or credit

·         Fraudulent transfer of a motor vehicle

·         Issuance of bad checks

·         Credit card fraud

·         Health care fraud

·         Identity theft

·         Deceptive business practices

·         Commercial bribery

The severity of the penalties for fraud offenses in Texas depends upon the nature of the crime, the individual’s previous criminal history, and the value of the funds, goods, or services involved in the fraudulent scheme. The most minor fraud-related charge may be a Class C misdemeanor, which typically results in a $500 fine, whereas the most serious fraud-related charge may be a first-degree felony, which is punishable by incarceration ranging from five to 99 years and a $10,000 fine. Individuals who commit fraud also may have to pay restitution to those who suffered losses as a result of the fraud.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have the experience and knowledge that are necessary to represent your interests when you are facing criminal court proceedings on any type of charges. We are here to gather evidence on your behalf, build a strong defense in your case, and develop the best strategy for achieving your goals. Take the first step by contacting us today and learning what we can do to help.

Posted in Criminal Defense, White Collar Crimes

How Does a SEC Investigation Work?

By Peek & Toland on October 24, 2018

There are various triggers that may lead to a SEC investigation. The SEC may notice discrepancies during its typical review of SEC reports, whistleblowers may tip off the SEC about illegal conduct, other government agencies may refer cases to the SEC, or the SEC may discover information in the course of its investigation of another matter. Whatever the case may be, SEC investigations can very quickly lead to federal charges for insider trading and other white-collar crimes.

SEC investigations are not public matters, and the first stage of any investigation process is an informal investigation referred to as a Matter Under Inquiry. In these investigations, SEC officials have no subpoena power; rather, they depend on the voluntary cooperation of a business to provide them with the requested information and documents. In some cases, the informal investigation ends the matter, but in other cases, it leads to a recommended enforcement action or a formal investigation.

How Does a SEC Investigation Work?

At the formal stage of investigation, the SEC Division of Enforcement investigates reports of securities violations pursuant to formal Orders of Investigation. These orders allow them to subpoena a broad range of information, documents, and even witness testimony in order to aid their investigation. An Order of Investigation contains a general description of the investigation and what securities law may have been violated. The Division of Enforcement has no prosecutorial powers, but instead will refer appropriate matters to the U.S. Attorney’s office for a criminal investigation and/or prosecution if necessary.

Following a formal investigation, the SEC may choose to begin an enforcement proceeding by issuing a notice of enforcement action. Those who receive the notice may respond to the notice within 30 days, but they are not required to do so, and sometimes, responding is ill-advised, depending on the situation. This notice can result in a civil action in federal court, an administrative proceeding in front of an administrative law judge, or, in some cases, no further enforcement action at all. If enforcement action is taken, the matter becomes public. The outcome of the action depends entirely on the severity and nature of the conduct at issue. A defendant could have assets frozen, large fines and monetary penalties, restitution of ill-gotten gains, and a referral for criminal prosecution in extreme cases.

The federal criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have the experience and knowledge that are necessary to represent your interests when you are facing criminal court proceedings on any type of charges. We are here to gather evidence on your behalf, build a strong defense in your case, and develop the best strategy for achieving your goals. Take the first step by contacting us today and learning what we can do to help.

Posted in White Collar Crimes

Embezzlement in Texas

By Peek & Toland on October 1, 2018

Embezzlement is categorized as a form of theft under Texas Penal Code Sec. 31.01 et. seq. Generally, embezzlement is theft for financial gain by an individual who has been entrusted, by an employer or another, to safeguard money or goods. Embezzlement often involves elements of fraud, in that individuals deliberately deceive a business, employer, or other entity for the purposes of their financial gain. This type of fraud can involve making false statements, falsifying records, or engaging in other sorts of misleading or deceitful conduct. Some common examples of embezzlement are:

·         An employee stealing money from a cash register.

·         Transferring money from a corporate or business bank account to a personal bank account.

·         Altering business records to conceal employee theft of funds.

·         An individual acting as power of attorney for an elderly person takes some of the person’s monthly income and doesn’t spend it for the person’s needs or expenses.

Embezzlement in Texas

The penalties for embezzlement under Texas law vary according to amount of funds or value of the goods stolen. Embezzlement is a misdemeanor when it involves the theft of less than $1,500. The penalty for misdemeanor embezzlement can be as much as a year in jail.

If the embezzlement involves the theft of funds or goods valued at between $1,500 and $20,000, it is a state jail felony, which carries a jail sentence of between 180 days and two years. Embezzlement becomes a third-degree felony when it involves between $20,000 and $100,000, which can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years. Embezzlement involving between $100,000 and $200,000 is a second-degree felony that can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years. If the embezzlement involves more than $200,000, then it is a first-degree felony with a potential prison sentence of five to 99 years.

As this post indicates, the potential consequences of an embezzlement conviction may be quite significant. We are here to ensure that your rights are not violated and minimize any negative consequences that you may face as a result of embezzlement or related charges. The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

Posted in White Collar Crimes

Medicare Fraud and Texas Law

By Peek & Toland on September 11, 2018

Medicare is a federally-administered health insurance program that provides medical benefits primarily to individuals who are retired. Healthcare providers who offer medical care to individuals with Medicare are responsible for filing claims for reimbursement from Medicare for the services that they provided. In some cases, however, medical providers or facilities knowingly overbill or fraudulently bill Medicare for services that it did not provide, or for services that it provide, but that were medically unnecessary. Another common form of Medicare fraud is for a medical provider to offer financial incentives for patient referrals in order to collect additional Medicare reimbursement funds.

When these situations occur, these individuals or entities could face Medicare fraud charges under federal law. Conviction on federal Medicare fraud charges could result in fines and up to ten years of imprisonment, or both. However, if the fraud results in serious bodily injury, the potential imprisonment increases to 20 years, and if the fraud results in death, the potential imprisonment increases to any number of years, or life in prison.

Medicare Fraud and Texas Law

Additionally, making any sort of false statement or claim associated with Medicaid or Medicare can result in a five-year prison sentence and fines of as much as $250,000 per offense. An organization who makes a false statement or claim with respect to Medicaid or Medicare can be fined $500,00 per offense.

The federal government also has stepped up its prosecutions of Medicare fraud. In June of this year, a federal jury convicted two Texas nurses and one doctor of federal healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud from their home healthcare scheme, which is estimated to have netted them as much as $11.3 million. This is just one example of the increased prosecutions of these crimes by the federal government.

An experienced Texas white collar crime attorney can help build a strong defense against criminal charges, regardless of the type of criminal offense involved. Taking steps to get you released from incarceration and fight for your rights at the beginning of your case is typically easier than waiting until it may be too late to remedy your situation. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

Posted in White Collar Crimes

Money Laundering

By Peek & Toland on August 3, 2018

Money laundering refers to a broad range of criminal offenses, all of which involve gaining assets from an illegal activity. For instance, you could have obtained money or other assets from the illegal drug trade, wire fraud, mail fraud, or illegal forms of gambling. Although many individuals assume that all money laundering involves false names and offshore bank accounts used to avoid taxes, that is not always the case. You can face money laundering charges simply for having large sums of money or assets that you have no proof of legally obtaining. Since money laundering always involves another illegal activity, money laundering charges often are accompanied by other felony charges.

Money Laundering

The severity of punishment for a money laundering conviction varies according to the amount of money or other assets involved in the scheme or series of transactions. For assets valued at $2,500 to $29,000, for instance, you would face a state jail felony with a potential jail sentence of six months to two years in jail, along with as much as a $10,000 fine. On the other end of the spectrum, assets valued at $300,000 or more could result in a 1st degree felony conviction, carrying a prison sentence of five to 99 years in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine. Additionally, any sort of money laundering conviction can trigger the federal government to take steps to seize any property that you own, including vehicles, bank accounts, and real estate.

If you find yourself charged with money laundering or any other type of criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys can offer you. The consequences of a money laundering conviction can be serious, no matter what type of criminal charges you may be facing. As a result, you should immediately contact a skilled defense lawyer for help if you have been accused of a criminal offense. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation on a regular basis for adults who are charged with various crimes. It is our priority is to represent your interests and protect your rights.  Call us at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment to speak with us today.

Posted in Criminal Defense, White Collar Crimes

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