Identity theft, otherwise known as identity fraud, is a white-collar crime. It’s become prevalent over the last 20 years with the explosion of the internet. South Florida is the epicenter of identity theft-related offenses, and numerous criminal enterprises are involved in identity theft.
If you have been charged with identity theft in Florida, you must contact an experienced white-collar lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights. Even if you are only suspected of identity theft, it is critical to get legal help as quickly as possible — law enforcement officials are known to subpoena evidence and conduct surveillance long before an official arrest is made.
Identity theft can be charged in state or federal court. Often, identity theft charges are just one count in a more significant Racketeering indictment. If you live in Miami or the greater South Florida area and are facing identity theft charges, Brian Kirlew, Esq., can help you prepare your defense strategy. Contact us immediately for a free phone consultation at 305-521-0484.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when a person uses the personal identifying information of another individual, without their consent or authorization, for some fraudulent purpose, usually for economic benefit.
The most common types of identity theft are when someone steals your purse or wallet and takes your personal identification documents such as your driver’s license or social security card, uses these to open new accounts in your name, establishes credit cards, and maxes them out on an extravagant spending spree that may take years to pay off. The person may also get their hands on the blank checks you use to pay bills and cash them at retail stores. Other common means of identity theft occur at a doctor’s office, where a staff member steals your personal information and sells it to a third party who applies for credit cards and loans in your name. Identity theft also commonly occurs at gas stations where a skimmer is used to obtain the credit card information of a person, and a duplicate “dummy card” is created with that information.
You can also be a victim of identity theft by giving away too much personal information online, which could allow strangers to apply for loans in your name; create false profiles on social networking sites; order items from merchants using your account number, or file taxes using your Social Security number.
Penalties for Identity Theft in South Florida
If you are found guilty of identity fraud in Florida, you could face the following penalties:
- If the crime is charged as a third-degree felony, up to five years in prison and/or up to five years’ probation, and an additional $5,000 in fines
- If the crime is charged as a second-degree felony, up to fifteen years behind bars and fifteen years’ probation along with $10,000 in fines
- If the crime is charged as a first-degree felony, up to thirty years behind bars, along with $10,000 in fines
- Possession of personal identification of 20 persons or more, and theft of $50,000 or more, is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison with a 5-year minimum mandatory sentence.
- Possession of personal identification of 30 persons or more, and theft of $100,000 or more, is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison with a 10-year minimum mandatory sentence.
As with any felony conviction, you will lose certain rights and have collateral consequences with an Identify Theft conviction. You will lose your right to possess a firearm and vote if convicted. Prospective employers, landlords, and HOAs may see your criminal history in a background check, making finding employment or housing more difficult.
Suppose you have been charged with identity theft, conspiracy, racketeering, or another offense related to identity theft in South Florida. In that case, it is essential to reach out to a white-collar attorney who can help. Even if you don’t think you did anything wrong, it is better to get legal counsel to protect your rights.
Act Quickly to Defend Your Rights — Contact the Kirlew Law Firm NOW!
It is essential to know your rights if you have been accused of identity theft in South Florida. You have the right to remain silent and have a lawyer present at all stages of a criminal investigation, not just in court. If a law enforcement officer contacts you or arrests you, tell the officer that you are invoking your fifth amendment rights to remain silent and to contact your lawyer Brian Kirlew, Esq.
At the Kirlew Law Firm, we have a wealth of knowledge and experience in Identity Theft cases and white-collar crimes in general. We will put their expertise to your benefit. Call (305) 521-0484 or contact us online to get started on your defense.
Antitrust laws were established to protect trade and commerce from abusive practices. Violations can include price-fixing, price discrimination, restraints, and monopolization.
This form of white-collar crime is increasingly common as more people use computers, phones, and other internet-enabled devices to commit acts of fraud, hacking, extortion, and theft.
Thieves take personal information to access banking and financial accounts, make purchases, open utility accounts, or steal tax refunds. In some cases, an identity thief may even use a false identity during an arrest.
This white-collar crime occurs when a thrift utilizes a stolen credit card or other information from that account to make unauthorized purchases. In some cases, they may use the stolen information to take out cash advances against the account.
The illicit selling of fake goods or services over the phone. Many phone scams are framed as a giveaway, or free offer in exchange for sensitive information, like access to banking or credit card accounts.
Often paired with another form of fraud, bankruptcy fraud can be the concealment of assets to prevent forfeiting them, filing incomplete or false forms, filing multiple times in different locations using fake or forged documents, and bribing of court-appointed trustees.
Largely committed by organized crime groups, this form of fraud includes performing unnecessary procedures to bill an insurance company, billing for services that were never rendered, and billing every step of one procedure as if they were individual procedures.
Environmental law makes actions like the illegal disposal of waste, improper storage of hazardous materials, or failure to comply with EPA and state regulations illegal.
An act committed to defraud an insurance company is considered a white-collar crime. This could include attempting to obtain benefits or advantages that an individual is not entitled to or when an insurer denies benefits that someone is due.
One of the most common forms of fraud, mail fraud is when the USPS or private carrier is used to commit a crime of deceit. This could be to obtain money or to sell and distribute illicit goods.
These forms of fraud start with a scheme to steal or obtain financial information by using false representation or promises of goods and services in return.
Crimes committed through extortion and coercion are considered racketeering. Generally, a racketeer obtains money or goods from someone using intimidation tactics or force.
Largely connected to federal government contracting or federally-funded programs, government fraud might involve public housing, agricultural programs, corporate subsidies, and bribery.
This form of white-collar crime is the deliberate failure to pay your taxes or the underpayment of the taxes you owe. It can be underreporting of income, overreporting of deductions, or improperly claiming tax credits and exemptions.
Also called investment fraud, securities fraud involves misrepresenting the information that investors use to make financial decisions.
This is the trading of the stock or securities of a public company that is based on non-public information about the company. This is the profiteering of information based on a company’s assets.
A bribe is the giving or receiving of something of value in order to influence the actions of another person or group.
The major focus of the FBI, public corruption covers a variety of crimes, including the violation of federal law by public officials, fraud related to the procurement, contracts, and funding of federal programs, and other crimes that are related to local, state, and federal governments.
By withholding assets, funds, or goods from an employer or business partner, you are committing an act of embezzlement.
Generally sponsored by foreign entities or outside corporations, economic espionage can target the U.S. government, U.S. companies, or other establishments and institutions. Economic espionage is the unlawful obtaining of financial information
Trade secrets are the information or assets that give a company an advantage over others in the market. The theft of these assets is when someone uses this information without consent of the business.
In addition to State White Collar crime, we also represent clients charged with Federal White Collar crimes,
How are White Collar Crimes Investigated?
In almost every federal white-collar criminal investigation, the federal agents and local police officers involved in the case shadow their suspects for months and even years. They utilize wiretaps, subpoenaed bank records, videotape conversations and meetings, property and assets, business records, and cooperating witnesses. The agents often seek to make pre-indictment deals with codefendants or coworkers who they threaten to charge if they don’t talk.
The feds have unlimited resources and they are extremely patient in their investigations. Many times, an agent will get so committed to an investigation that they bend the rules, alleged they witnessed activity that they didn’t and innocent people get wrapped up in the conspiracy that they knew nothing about. This is why it is critical to contact a Miami white-collar attorney the moment you suspect you are the target of a white-collar criminal investigation. With the help of our investigators and forensic accountants, we can often mitigate the exposure a client may face in a white collar criminal prosecution.
What is White-Collar Crime?
Generally, white-collar crime is investigated and prosecuted by federal authorities. This means that white-collar crime cases have higher conviction rates than other crimes. Federal prosecutors are able to leverage more resources to pursue a white-collar crime case and are encouraged to close the case quickly.
The punishment for a white-collar crime varies based on what level the crime is being prosecuted at, whether state or federal, and the amount of money involved in the crime. There are no set guidelines that dictate the severity of penalty based on the amount of money stolen; however, generally, larger amounts are punished more severely.
Since the 2002 and 2008 financial crises, there have been more penalties and convictions for white-collar crimes, and as such, penalties have become more severe. On average, a sentence for money laundering is about 48 months in prison. Those convicted of bribery could face 16 months, and those for fraud, 12 months. Tax offenses generally result in 16 months of jail time. And if there are more than five victims, the loss amount is in the millions as opposed to the thousands or the accused qualifies for a host of other enhancements, these penalties can be significantly higher.
When You Should Hire an Attorney When Convicted of a White Collar Crime?
Given the harsh nature of the penalties for white-collar crimes and that federal authorities often lead these investigations, you must hire an attorney in Miami as soon as you’re convicted. In some cases, defendants are only aware of the investigation just a few weeks or months before an arrest is made. It’s important to use any lead time you may have to build a case with an attorney.
While your attorney can’t stop an investigation, they can work with you to defend your rights before, during, and after the trial. If nothing else, you must have a legal representative with you whenever you deal with a federal investigator or while you’re being questioned.
Why You Need a Competent Attorney
When you work with a skilled criminal defense attorney like those at the Kirlew Law Firm, they’ll maintain clear lines of communication with the prosecution throughout your investigation. This could lead to a favorable negotiation before any arrests are made, or the formal prosecution starts.
More than just negotiations, a competent white-collar crime attorney can help draft legal defenses that can help your case. Our attorneys can cross-examine witnesses, manage information about the case, and challenge physical exhibits and financial records that may be used to seal your case. Ultimately, a talented attorney like Brian Kirlew can find small inconsistencies or faults in the prosecution to bolster your defense.
Contact a Miami White Collar Criminal Attorney today!
If you are being investigated for a White Collar crime at the state or federal level (or both), the sooner you get a qualified attorney on your side to protect your rights, the better. Brian Kirlew, Esq. is experienced and skilled at handling these complex and sensitive matters, and is here to represent you in court. Our criminal defense attorneys in Miami are proud to offer you a free phone consultation to ensure that we can best serve you. Contact us immediately to get started.