White Collar Crime

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Los Angeles White Collar Crime Attorney – Mariya Melkonyan

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Cases involving white collar crime are oftentimes complex and involve dynamic investigations and extensive evidence compilation. From financial documents and phone records to computer data and the testimony of close friends or business colleagues, no part of your life is left unturned with this intensive legal process.

A skilled Los Angeles white collar crime attorney will aggressively advocate to protect your personal interests, uphold your rights, and work with the court to reduce your sentence. Speak with Mariya Melkonyan about your case, today.

This comprehensive guide explores many facets of the white collar crimes legal process and examines the ways a seasoned white collar crimes defense attorney can work with you to reduce your charges.

What Is Considered White Collar Crime?

The term “white collar crime” was first coined in 1939 to describe a wide range of fraudulent criminal activities. The term typically refers to nonviolent offenses associated with “white collar” professions, like accountants or business consultants. White-collar crime usually involves fraudulent activities aimed at hiding monetary gains or losses and other financial indiscretions.  

Informants, like trusted business colleagues, or friends, may be used to get close to the targeted individual. Other times, the target may be questioned directly as part of an undefined investigation and be fully unaware that they, themselves, are the alleged suspect in question.

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    What Is Not Considered White Collar Crime? 

    Street crimes and white collar crimes are broad terms used to define two very different types of criminal activity. Street crime is a term that refers to criminal offenses that take place in public spaces. Street crimes often involve violent acts while white-collar crimes are typically non-violent in nature. 

    What Is One Difference Between Street Crime And White Collar Crime?

    Robbing someone’s purse while they walk along a public street would be an example of street crime while a large-scale operation focused on defrauding investors would fall under the realm of white-collar criminal activity. 

    Street Crime V. White Collar Crime

    Violence is the main difference that distinguishes a street crime from a white-collar crime. Examples of street crime include pickpocketing, assault, petty theft, vandalism, and selling or using illicit drugs. Many people mistakenly believe that white-collar crimes have lower sentences and penalties than street crimes because they are not violent in nature.

    The truth, however, is that white collar criminal sentences can be just as life-shattering as street crime convictions. Contact one of the best white collar crime attorney firms in Los Angeles, The Law Offices of Mariya Melkonyan to build your defense strategy.

    What Are Examples of White Collar Crimes?

    Unlike street crimes, white-collar crimes do not usually involve violent acts. Instead, white-collar crimes are typically complex in nature and involve acts of fraud that are rooted in financial misconduct. Hiring an experienced Los Angeles white-collar crime attorney like Mariya Melkonyan can make a huge difference in the outcome of a case. Here are a few white-collar crime examples:

    • Bank Fraud– this multifaceted legal issue involves stealing funds from a bank or attempting to defraud a financial institution of money. Title 18 of the U.S. Code defines bank fraud as instances when people “knowingly execute, or attempt to execute, a scheme or artifice to defraud a financial institution; or obtain any of the moneys, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by, or under the custody or control of, a financial institution, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises”.
    • Embezzlement– this term encompasses a wide range of theft and larceny. Anyone with access to company property or money who uses these assets for personal gain would be considered an embezzler. Stealing money from a cash register and the wide-scale transfer of millions of company dollars are each considered acts of embezzlement. 
    • Credit Card Fraud– this type of fraud refers to criminal acts committed using any type of payment card, including but not limited to debit and credit cards. Any unauthorized use of credit cards or unlawfully obtaining someone’s credit card information to establish a line of credit are both considered acts of credit card fraud. 
    • Accounting Fraud Charges– this term refers to the intentional manipulation of financial statements to hide profits or losses. These business scandals involve the purposeful manipulation of financial statements to hide misdeeds. Forging revenue growth without corresponding cash flow or unparalleled success during difficult financial markets will typically indicate signs of accounting fraud. This type of fraud is punishable at both the state and federal level. 

    Any illegal alteration made to a company’s financial documents with the purpose of manipulating the company’s health, such as inflating revenue, failing to record assets, or reporting liabilities would be examples of accounting fraud.  

    Former American stockbroker, Bernie Madoff, orchestrated the largest accounting fraud scheme in history. Using a complex Ponzi Scheme, Madoff defrauded investors out of over $64.8 billion. A Ponzi scheme refers to an investment scam that promises investors extremely high returns, but the initial investors are paid returns funded by new investors.

    Once the scammer is unable to secure new investors to pay their existing ones, the scheme implodes, leaving the scheme’s victims with devastating financial losses. 

    • Medicare Fraud– this term refers to acts which strive to illegitimately collect money from the Medicare program. Common examples of Medicare fraud include billing for services that were not provided, charging for unnecessary services, changing the documented dates of services, or paying kickbacks to providers for patient referrals.
    • The False Claims Act is a federal law that imposes steep legal penalties against people or companies who knowingly defraud governmental programs. Under this Act, a convicted person could face up to five years in prison and criminal fines as high as $250,000.
    • Money Laundering– this process involves taking money obtained from illegal sources, like drug trafficking or embezzlement, and falsely legitimizing the source of this cash flow. This act is essential for sustaining criminals with large amounts of money who take these large financial sums and funnel them through different accounts to create the appearance of a legitimate business.  
    • Wire Fraud– this type of fraud involves the use of telecommunications or the internet. These federal crimes involve electronically transmitting something associated with fraudulent activity. If these transmissions cross state lines, federal jurisdiction is claimed. Under federal law, wire fraud is a Class C felony, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and $250,000 in fines. Phone calls, faxes, emails, and social media messages can all be used to facilitate acts of wire fraud. 
    • Mail Fraud– when a person uses physical mail with the intent to defraud others, it is a federal offense. Acts of mail fraud are punishable by law with up to 20 years maximum prison sentence. However, if the acts of fraud occur during a presidentially declared disaster or emergency, the maximum prison sentence increases to 30 years and the guilty party may have to pay a fine up to $1,000,000. 
    • Kickbacks– undisclosed payments made by a third party to a company’s employees in exchange for preferential treatment is a form of bribery known as kickbacks. 
    • Computer Hacking/ Internet Crimes– computer hacking is a form of cybercrime that involves the identification and exploitation of weaknesses in computer systems or networks for personal gain. Computer hackers usually carry out these activities to steal corporate data, violate privacy rights, or unlawfully access and transfer funds from bank accounts.
    • Bribery– the act of offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting items of value to influence the actions of a public or legal official. In cases of bribery, the prosecution is tasked with proving the intent to influence another individual’s legal duties. 

    Punishment For White Collar Crime

    Not all white collar crimes are prosecuted at the federal level. In fact, many of these investigations and cases are handled by state prosecutors. White collar crimes are incredibly nuanced.

    These cases often require state agencies to have extensive resources if they wish to bring these cases to trial. However, not all state agencies can afford the financial undertaking of prosecuting complex white-collar crime. 

    Cases involving substantial monetary losses will often involve federal investigation and prosecution if federal law has been violated. Many white-collar crimes can be tried at either the state or federal level. Cases involving bank fraud, federal income tax fraud, or bribery of federal officials, however, are traditionally prosecuted in federal court. 

    Different federal and state-level punishments exist for the various types of white-collar crimes. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, white-collar crime costs the United States upwards of $300 billion each year. White collar criminal indictments usually involve individuals, but the government reserves the right to sanction corporations for these unlawful activities too.

    Examples of white-collar crime punishments include:

    • Fines: courts will rarely impose the maximum fine on someone convicted of white-collar crime. A white collar crimes defense attorney can advocate for your financial interests and encourage the court to issue a lower fine for your conviction. 
    • Restitution: the court may order the defendant to pay a sum of money to compensate the victim for monetary costs and losses associated with the committed crime. The amount of this penalty is based on the sum of the victim’s losses. Restitution penalties are mandatory for many white-collar crimes. 
    • Forfeiture: this penalty is intended to prohibit a defendant from indulging in self-enriching activities with the financial gains from their fraudulent behavior. Any assets used to commit or obtained from the white-collar crime are often involved in court-ordered forfeiture.
    • Home Detention: Instead of being incarcerated in jail or prison, white-collar criminal convictions may allow home detention to be used as part of the defendant’s sentence. Also known as house arrest, this option may be used while a defendant awaits trial or in lieu of serving jail or prison time. 

    Federal sentencing guidelines suggest harsher sentences if at least one victim has suffered substantial financial harm. There are many variables involved in white collar crime cases, so it is important to have a skilled and aggressive white collar defense attorney by your side to facilitate a lessened sentence.

    Oftentimes, these criminal sanctions can be lessened if the defendant takes responsibility for the committed crimes and cooperates with the authorities’ investigation. It is imperative that you have knowledgeable legal counsel by your side to ensure your interests are protected and your rights are upheld during this process. 

    California White Collar Crime Law

    On a state level, California Penal Code Section 186.11 grants aggravated white-collar crime sentencing options to judges. Under the law, judges may add an additional two to five years to your prison sentence if two scenarios apply to your case: 

    • You are facing serious criminal charges, such as fraud, bribery, or embezzlement


    • You have two prior white collar crime convictions that involve embezzlement or fraud. 

    Furthermore, your sentence may be determined by the amount of money an alleged victim lost. If the alleged victim lost more than $100,000 as a result of the white-collar crime, the sentencing enhancement will be served in addition to the convicted defendant’s initial sentence. These sentencing terms will be served consecutively. 

    Your Defense Makes All The Difference

    In the state of California, white-collar crimes can include either misdemeanor or felony charges. These criminal cases often involve exhaustive investigations performed by state and/or federal agencies.  If convicted, penalties may range from fines and house confinement to extensive prison sentences and hefty restitution or forfeiture costs. 

    An experienced white collar crime attorney, like Mariya Melkonyan can help create a defense strategy for your case and prevent steep financial penalties and other losses to damage to your professional reputation. No part of your life is unaffected if you are convicted of a white-collar crime.

    White-collar criminal charges can be the result of unintentional oversights or blatant disregard for the law. Regardless of the circumstances of your unique case, you deserve a dedicated and tenacious white-collar crime defense attorney from Melkonyan Law.

    Mariya Melkonyan is a Los Angeles top white collar crime attorney with 13 years of experience. Confidently build a solid defense for your case, contact her office today. Though white-collar crime charges may seem daunting, there is every reason to fight for the best possible outcome. 


    Frequently Asked Questions

    During your free initial consultation, you will speak directly with Mariya Melkonyan, an experienced white collar crime attorney in Los Angeles. She will listen to you as you explain the facts of your case, getting a clear overview of your situation.

    Your attorney will then explain the process, letting you know what will be expected of you and the support and services they will offer.

    Your attorney will then guide you on how to proceed and begin collecting potential witness details to support your case and evidence for preservation, proper representation, and preparation.

    Finally, they will explain our fees, take you through our retainer form, and answer any queries you have.

    To give your attorney a clear view of your case, you must provide them with as many details and as much evidence about your case as possible. This may include documentation, videos, audio files, witness names, time logs on any information related to the case for review.

    The more details and evidence you can provide, the better case your attorney can build right from the start.

    Some clients are concerned about revealing too much to a lawyer in an initial consultation, but your meetings with an attorney are confidential and protected by client/attorney privilege.

    After your initial consultation, we’ll be able to determine a retainer fee and discuss payment options. In most cases, the retainer feee payments are divided into two parts; the first is typically payable upfront.

    There are various options for paying your retainer fee, including cash, check, or card.

    There is no one-size-fits-all cost for when it comes to working with a white collar crime attorney to help you defend your criminal case. The fee depends on the charges against you and the details of your specific case.

    As a rule, open misdemeanor cases tend to be charged at a lower fee than open felony cases. Post-conviction legal services, such as expungement of criminal records, are usually even less expensive.

    The final fee depends on the complexity of your case. During your consultation, the attorney will discuss the fees with you. The more details you can give about your case, the more accurate expectations your attorney can set.

    White Collar Crimes Defense Law Firm

    White collar crime cases can be very serious, extremely stressful, and overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to hire an experienced white collar crime attorney to help you if you’ve been charged with a white collar crime. At The Law Offices of Mariya Melkonyan, we always have our client’s best interest at heart. From the moment you contact us for a consultation, we start planning solid defenses for your case.

    Most clients feel ashamed, frustrated, and angry after being charged with a crime, especially a white collar crime. Our legal team is here to reiterate that you, as a citizen, have basic rights, one of which is to hire an attorney. Before you speak to authorities, remember that you do not have to answer any questions without a lawyer present. Mariya Melkonyan is a 13-year expert white collar attorney with extensive trial jury case experience. She has tirelessly fought countless felonies and misdemeanors and can apply those same skill sets in your case.

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