White-Collar Crime Attorneys in Los Angeles
White-collar crime cases are rarely simple. Usually, they are mazes of financial documents, business decisions, electronic records, and more. But our experienced lawyers know how to navigate through these complex mazes. More importantly, we know how to build strong cases and get positive results for people like you. That’s why Los Angeles Magazine chose to include Mark Werksman on a list of the area’s top white-collar criminal defense attorneys.
At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we understand how easily white-collar crime charges can arise. We have seen them appear as the result of an honest financial mistake, of poor business agreements, or simply because of false accusations. A successful criminal defense strategy often requires finding a needle in a haystack. We leave no stone unturned in our investigations, which is why we have a strong record of success. Please call (213) 688-0460 to set up your no-cost initial consultation with a top Los Angeles white-collar crime defense attorney today.
In general, the term "white collar crime" is used to refer to non-violent offenses associated with "white collar" workers, especially those working in finance. White-collar crime is typically thought of as an offense involving monetary losses. This may involve a business, someone’s personal finances, or even local, state, and federal agencies.
Although white-collar crimes can take many different forms, some common ones include:
- Bank Fraud: This refers to any act or pattern of action that is intended to defraud a bank of funds. Using a stolen identity to make or access an account, creating a fake business, and trying to pass stolen checks can all be forms of bank fraud.
- Embezzlement: Embezzlement occurs when someone is entrusted with company property or money and uses it for his or her own benefit. It can include actions like taking invested money or using company property.
- Credit Card Fraud: This is the unauthorized use of credit cards to gain property or other goods. It can also include the use of stolen information to establish a credit line in someone else's name without their permission.
- Computer Fraud: Computers can be used to defraud others out of money or other property, often by stealing information from individuals or businesses. Hacking and other cybercrimes are often prosecuted at the federal level.
- Blackmail: Blackmail is a white-collar crime if it is performed by someone in a place of power within a company who uses threats of bodily harm or reputation damage to demand money or other items of value from someone else. Blackmail often involves a threat of revealing damaging secrets about someone.
- Investment Schemes: These are situations in which a person is promised a return on an investment, which is typically never made while the invested money is kept by the perpetrator. Ponzi schemes are among these well-known white-collar crimes.
The dollar amounts in these kinds of cases can be substantial, which is why white-collar crimes have made headlines in recent years and are being prosecuted more aggressively than ever before.
While each charge will need its own specific strategy to prevent a conviction, there are common factors in these types of cases.
- Intent: Legally speaking, “intent” means that a defendant did not have to commit the crime, only desire to commit the crime and take steps to commit it. To convict a defendant of bank fraud, for example, the prosecution must show that the defendant intended to defraud a bank of money, assets, or property. Mistakenly taking funds from a bank due to a filing error is not a crime, as it lacked intent on the defendant’s part.
- Capabilities: Intent is not enough for a court to convict a defendant for a white-collar crime. In addition to intending to commit the crime, the defendant must have been capable of committing the crime.
- Fraud: Fraud refers to the act of using deceit, trickery, or lies to falsely represent or conceal certain facts. This can be done to acquire someone else’s property or to damage another person’s finances. Fraud plays a role in most white-collar crimes, especially those involving contracts, legal agreements, and the sharing of financial information.
To beat a white-collar charge, you need to work with a team that has an in-depth understanding of how investigators collect evidence and how prosecutors litigate these cases. At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, many of our lawyers have served in district attorney’s offices and know firsthand how these charges are evaluated. After speaking to you in a free consultation, we can begin preparing a defense strategy, which may include:
- You had no intention of committing a crime, and it only occurred due to an error.
- You were not aware that you provided false information.
- The victim did not suffer an injury or loss due to fraud.
- Another individual committed the crime.
- The prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to convict you.
- Evidence against you was obtained illegally.
A: It is often assumed (incorrectly) that white-collar crimes are prosecuted only in federal court. But in reality, it is not uncommon for state prosecutors to go after those accused of white-collar crimes.
The reasons why some white-collar offenses are prosecuted in state court while others are prosecuted in federal court are complicated. Many white-collar crimes are incredibly complex and require extensive resources to prosecute and bring to trial, but not all state agencies can afford to bring these matters to court. As an example, a particular case may require many investigative hours and a prosecutor with a certain level of expertise who is not available at the local district attorney’s office.
If the case involves a large enough monetary loss, federal authorities often become involved in the investigation and prosecute the case in federal court - assuming that a federal law has been broken. Because of the broad reach of federal laws, many white-collar cases can be brought in either federal court or state court. Some offenses are traditionally prosecuted in federal court, even though they may also involve violations of state law. These offenses include bank fraud, securities and commodities fraud, fraud cases involving federal funds, federal income tax offenses, procurement fraud involving federal contractors, bribery involving federal officials, and more.
A: Several government law enforcement agencies investigate white-collar offenses. Sometimes more than one agency will be involved, if the crime lies within the scope of a particular agency’s expertise. Generally, the FBI investigates bank and mortgage fraud, and other general frauds. The IRS investigates tax-related matters, but also frequently teams up with other agencies, such as the FBI, in fraud investigations. The IRS has primary responsibility for investigating money-laundering offenses, which are often charged along with fraud offenses. The Department of Defense investigates defense procurement fraud cases. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigates types of fraud involving mail. Immigration and Customs Enforcement may be involved in cases relating to imported counterfeit goods.
A: As for financial penalties imposed with a conviction, there are several possibilities:
- Fines – A penalty with a maximum set by statute. In practice, courts will rarely impose the maximum fine.
- Restitution – A penalty that is intended to "make the victim whole." Restitution is calculated according to the victim’s loss, and is often mandatory.
- Forfeiture – A penalty that is intended to prevent the defendant from "self-enrichment." Forfeiture includes any financial gains by the defendant as a result of the crime, as well as any significant assets that were used in the course of committing the crime.
You’re a professional. Being charged with a white-collar crime does not simply mean you are threatened with jail time or fines. If convicted, your career and reputation could be ruined.
Our firm knows how serious allegations of white-collar crime can be; we will investigate every detail of your case, frequently enlisting skilled investigators, such as ex-IRS agents, FBI agents, ex-postal investigators, and former Los Angeles prosecutors to assist us. With state-of-the-art technology, we are able to scan and analyze thousands of pages of business and bank records in an amazingly short period of time.
Managing Partner Mark Werksman has been named by Super Lawyers® as one of the top-rated white-collar crimes attorneys in Los Angeles since 2005. Contact one of our lawyers at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP for any of your white-collar defense needs at (213) 688-0460 today.
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Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.