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Some of the most infamous news stories involve white collar crimes. While a white collar criminal court case may have exciting twists and turns, some are very basic. These cases generally involve criminal activity that is financially motivated in nature. White collar crimes are non-violent, although they can occur in combination with violent offenses in some instances. Ohle & Ohle, P.A.’s Fort Pierce white collar crime lawyers represent individuals who have been charged – or believe they might be charged – by the feds.

Federal white collar crimes

Although white collar crimes can be state crimes, the federal government almost always has jurisdiction. Similar to other serious offenses, white collar crimes are federal if the criminal activity crosses state lines, involves the banking system, or involves a federal agency. Examples of federal white collar crimes include:

  • bank fraud
  • bankruptcy fraud
  • counterfeiting
  • Internet crimes
  • immigration-related crimes
  • mail fraud
  • money laundering
  • environmental crimes
  • wire fraud
  • bribery


Elements of a white collar crime

White collar crime involves the theft of assets or information through unauthorized access. The term “white collar” refers to the type of dress shirt that is commonly worn by people who work in the corporate and political environments in which white collar crime most often takes place. There are certain elements that are common to most white collar criminal cases. To obtain a conviction in a white collar crimes case, the prosecutor must prove:

  • intent
  • concealment
  • knowledge
  • reliance

Intent to violate the law

A prosecutor must prove someone who is accused of engaging in white collar crime intended to break the law. For example, someone who offers an investment opportunity that does not pan out may avoid conviction on a Ponzi scheme charge if the individual never planned to defraud investors. Proving intent can be challenging in some instances. An experienced federal white collar crimes attorney can help the accused party establish his or her case.

Concealment of criminal activity

White collar crimes generally include an element of deceit or concealment to hide criminal activity. Deceit and concealment are the tools white collar criminals use to hide schemes and prevent their victims from discovering their intent to steal. Someone who steals personal information will generally pretend to be collecting financial data for a seemingly legitimate, safe reason. For example, phishing schemes involve sending emails that appear to have a link to a real financial institution. When a potential user clicks the link, he or she will arrive at a fake website that resembles his or her bank but is actually intended to capture log-in information or other sensitive data.

Knowledge of a legal violation

A white collar criminal must be aware that he or she is breaking the law. An individual who does not report all of his or her tax income may not be found guilty of tax fraud if the individual believes he or she is not required to report the income.

Reliance on the fraudulent act

In every white collar crime case, the victim relies on the perpetrator’s fraudulent act. Investors rely on the false, deceptive information they receive from the person who operates a Ponzi scheme. Constituents rely on public officials who embezzle public funds.

White collar criminal investigations

Federal white collar crimes are most often investigated by the SEC, the IRS, the FBI, and ICE. These agencies sometimes work with state and local law enforcement agencies to share investigative information and resources. In some instances, an individual may face charges for a white collar offense in federal court and in state court.

Penalties upon conviction

White collar criminals may face criminal and civil liabilities. Individuals who are convicted in criminal court may be sentenced to time in prison and/or ordered to pay a fine. On the civil side, an individual may also be ordered to pay restitution to victims of the crime. If the scheme involves illegally obtaining assets, the perpetrator will likely be ordered to return the stolen assets. In some cases, a sentencing court may place an individual on probation if convicted of a white collar offense. During the probation period, the individual must adhere to strict limitations on travel and financial activities and participate in rehabilitative programs.

Special experience required to defend federal charges

Federal charges call for a more qualified defense lawyer. Not only do federal white collar crimes carry harsher sentences, but federal court prosecutors and judges are highly-skilled legal professionals who are typically at the top of the legal field. Federal court defendants require a federal defense lawyer who is equally skilled and has access to expert witnesses and other resources defendants often need in complex federal cases.

Under investigation for a white collar crime in Fort Pierce?

Unlike the criminal court process for other crimes, the process for white collar crimes begins with the investigation. Before making an arrest, law enforcement agencies will often subpoena important documents, review email communications, interview persons of interest, and conduct a general investigation. Being investigated by a federal agency for a white collar crime can be nearly as detrimental as being charged. Individuals who are under investigation are at risk of the public presuming they are guilty. Employers and business contacts may be less inclined to do business with or hire someone who has been the subject of a criminal investigation.

We recommend contacting an accident attorney even if you have been contacted regarding a case that is still in the investigative stage. Your attorney will help you avoid making self-incriminating statements and be present to prevent law enforcement officials from infringing on your rights.

Let our white collar crime attorneys fight for you

Call Ohle and Ohle today to learn how we can protect your reputation and mitigate the potential damage a white collar crime investigation can do. If you have been charged with a federal white collar offense, we will represent you throughout the federal criminal court process. Our Fort Pierce criminal attorneys are committed to protecting your rights and helping you achieve the most favorable outcome. Contact us to receive a free case evaluation.

Why Choose Ohle & Ohle?
“We were in a bar in Port St Lucie minding our own business when this guy started hitting on my girlfriend. The argument escalated into a fight and suddenly the police were there and I got arrested and they charged me with assault. I found criminal attorney Mike Ohle on the internet, called him and set up a consultation that same day. As I described the events of my situation, Mike shared his experience as an assault and battery lawyer defending people wrongly accused of a crime. I’d highly recommend him to anyone who has been arrested anywhere in the Treasure coast.”
~ Max Bannister, Google Reviewer
Unlike many large, high-volume firms, we’ll treat you like an individual, and with compassion and understanding. Whether you’re facing criminal charges, going through a divorce or injured in an accident, what you need most right now is someone who will listen and provide you with the best possible representation throughout your unique case.
Several law firms from West Palm Beach claim to specialize in Treasure Coast cases, when in fact they don’t even have an office here. Leanne and Michael Ohle were born and raised in the Treasure Coast, and know the ins and outs of its legal system. We have offices in Fort Pierce and Stuart, and can come to you, depending on the situation.
The attorneys at Ohle & Ohle have proudly served Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie and the rest of the Treasure Coast for the past 48 years. We pride ourselves on our deep-rooted, strong ties to the community, which we believe gives us a clear advantage over our non-local competitors.
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