While criminal acts like operating under the influence or domestic violence are easy for most people to understand, other types of offenses can be challenging to spot with an untrained eye. One of the most obvious examples of these crimes is financial offenses.
Financial offenses – frequently referred to as white-collar crime – often look like standard financial transactions on the surface. Underneath, however, these actions involve a layer of deception or fraud targeting another person or entity. While many of these crimes are prosecuted at the federal level, state law also prohibits all forms of financial fraud or abuse.
If you have been accused of some form of financial impropriety or fraud, it is crucial that you act fast. The prosecutor in your case will begin building the case against you well before you are charged in many cases, which means you will be at a disadvantage from day one. Your best chance at protecting your legal rights and fighting back against the charges laid against you are with the help of an experienced financial offenses lawyer.
Attorney William Ashe is a dedicated defense attorney with a reputation for vigorously defending his clients. To discuss your defense options, contact the Law Offices of William H. Ashe right away.
Common Financial Offenses in Maine
There is an extensive variety of financial offenses under both state and federal law. In addition to the steep penalties that each of these offenses carries, a conviction for a financial offense can also cause serious harm to your reputation. Some of the most commonly charged white-collar crimes in Maine include:
- Embezzlement. Embezzlement is a form of “theft by “deception.” Embezzlement involves misappropriating assets that you were lawfully entrusted with.
- Extortion. Extortion is the act of obtaining control over other persons' property with the intent to deprive them of its use. Extortion involves the use of physical, emotional, or financial threats to deprive the victims of their property.
- Forgery. Forgery involves making, signing, or altering a written instrument with the intent to defraud.
- Fraud. Arguably the most common white-collar crime, fraud involves intentionally depriving another person or entity of property through the use of deception. Types of fraud include bank fraud, mail fraud, and mortgage fraud.
- Identity Theft. Identity theft involves the misappropriation of another person's identifying information to unlawfully obtain a financial benefit or reward.
- Money Laundering. Money laundering is the act of concealing the origin of illegally obtained money. This can include transfers between financial institutions or even the purchase of real estate.
- Tax Evasion. Whether it is state or federal tax obligations, the nonpayment or underpayment of a tax bill is known as tax evasion.
Examples of Maine Financial Crimes
With so many types of white-collar crime, the circumstances from which these charges could arise vary greatly. Consider the following examples to better understand some common financial offenses.
Example 1: Forgery
While walking down the street, you discover a blank check. After picking up the check, you fill in the amount of $10,000, address the check to yourself, and sign the name of the account holder. You then endorse the check and take it to your bank to make a deposit. By altering and signing the check with the intent to defraud the account holder, you have committed the crime of forgery.
Example 2: Embezzlement
You are the manager of a restaurant. Every day at the end of your shift, you secretly take home a country ham with you without permission. Although you are in charge of the restaurant and authorized to purchase and use the ham for business purposes, misappropriating it constitutes embezzlement. This is true even though it involves a food product instead of money.
Example 3: Mortgage Fraud
Despite your life-long goal of owning your own home, you do not have the credit necessary to secure a mortgage. Desperate for financial backing from a bank, you add your wealthy father's name to the loan documents as a co-signer. Because of his improved financial position, the bank agrees to loan you the money. Because you deceived the bank into believing your father was guaranteeing your loans, you have committed mortgage fraud. Depending on the method in which you obtained your father's signature, you could also potentially face charges of forgery.
Penalties for Convictions in Maine of Financial Offenses
The range of penalties for financial crimes is expansive. The specifics of each penalty will depend on whether the charge is state or federal. Additionally, the value of money or property involved in the crime can also impact the range of penalties.
For the most part, white-collar crimes are felonies. These crimes often involve a large amount of money, which usually gets the attention of federal authorities. Convictions can involve decades in prison in some cases, as well as thousands of dollars in fines.
Additionally, a conviction for felony white-collar crime could curtail many of the rights and privileges you are accustomed to. You could lose your right to vote or own a firearm. Additionally, the loss to your reputation for such a conviction could be immense. An experienced Maine white-collar crime lawyer could help you fight to avoid these consequences.
Common Defenses to Financial Offenses in Maine
Every white-collar crime is different, and each of these charges requires a unique approach to defending against it. Some defenses are applicable across the board to financial offenses, while others are only helpful under specific conditions. Some of the most commonly used defenses in a white-collar crime prosecution include:
- Mistaken identity
- Lack of intent
- Lack of fraudulent intent
Some defenses are more appropriate than others depending on the charges against you. When your attorney initially reviews your case, he will guide you on the best defenses available.
Contact a Maine Financial Offenses Lawyer Right Away
The thought of spending decades behind bars can be devastating. However, being arrested for financial offenses is not the same as being convicted. It is possible to prevail in a white-collar crime trial in some cases. To learn how you might avoid a conviction entirely, contact the Law Offices of William H. Ashe immediately.