White collar crime was once thought of as crimes committed by respectable people with high social status. Nowadays, the term is often used to refer to crimes committed by office workers in the course of their work. This often means financial crimes such as fraud, embezzlement and identity theft. The severity of criminal charges for white collar crimes will frequently depend on the value of the money or property involved in the alleged offenses. Certain cases can result in felony charges which carry very steep prison sentences and significant fines.
Do you think that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested for an alleged white collar criminal offense in Southeast Texas? You should avoid speaking to authorities until you are able to contact The Gonzalez Law Group. Give us a call today to learn how we can help.
Texas White Collar Crimes Information Center
- White Collar Crime Definitions in Texas
- Types of White Collar Crimes in Texas
- Harris County White Collar Crime Resources
White Collar Crime Definitions in Texas
While there is no section of the Texas Penal Code called “White Collar Crimes,” most white collar crimes would fall under the Code’s section on fraud offenses. While the statute goes into detail about every element of every specific type of fraud crime, the legal concept of fraud generally requires a couple of factors:
- A person knowingly makes a misrepresentation of material fact;
- The misrepresentation is directed towards someone who justifiably relies on that misrepresentation; and
- The person relying on the misrepresentation suffers an actual injury or loss due to that reliance.
White collar fraud crimes in Texas include things such as making forgeries, trademark counterfeiting, dealing in stolen checks, or making false statements to obtain a loan. Punishment for these crimes in Texas is based on the value of the property improperly obtained.
Texas Penal Code § 32.01(2) defines property as:
- Real property;
- Tangible or intangible personal property including anything severed from land; or
- A document, including money, that represents or embodies anything of value.
Value is defined under Texas Penal Code as the fair market value of the property or service at the time and place of the offense, or if the fair market value of the property cannot be ascertained, the cost of replacing the property within a reasonable time after the offense. When a document does not have a readily ascertainable market value and constitutes evidence of a debt, the value is the amount due and collectible at maturity less any part that has been satisfied. When the document is other than evidence of a debt, the value is the greatest amount of economic loss that the owner might reasonably suffer by virtue of loss of the document.
Under Texas Penal Code § 32.01(3), service is defined as:
- Labor and professional service;
- Telecommunication, public utility, and transportation service;
- Lodging, restaurant service, and entertainment; and
- The supply of a motor vehicle or other property for use.
Embezzlement is another common type of white collar crime. Where fraud is based on misrepresentation, embezzlement is based on betrayal of trust. In Texas, embezzlement falls under the state’s general theft statute which defines the elements of the offense as:
- Unlawful appropriation of property with intent to deprive the owner of the property.
- Appropriation is unlawful if it is without the owner’s effective consent or it is appropriated and the actor knows it is stolen property.
In the context of embezzlement, this usually means that a person was entrusted with property and then took, spent, or used the property without the owner’s consent. For instance, an office worker that, without permission, takes from petty cash, uses credit cards or company checks for personal reasons, issues fake loans, or creates fake accounts to transfer money to, could be guilty of theft in Texas.
Types of White Collar Crimes in Texas
The Gonzalez Law Group handles a wide variety of white collar crime cases. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers can immediately begin conducting a thorough, independent investigation and work to help clients achieve the most favorable possible outcomes to criminal cases.
Some of the most common kinds of white collar cases we handle include, but are not limited to:
- Organized Crime
- Money Laundering
- Bad Check
- Identity Theft
- Insurance Fraud
- Medicaid Fraud
- Mortgage Fraud
- Securities Fraud
- Credit Card Fraud
- Tax Fraud
Harris County White Collar Crime Resources
Financial Crimes Unit | City of Houston — The Financial Crimes Unit of the Houston Police Department investigates criminal offenses committed in the city pertaining to forged or counterfeit documents, credit card and debit card abuse, identity theft, embezzlement or bribery. Visit this website to learn how to make a report, add information to a previous report, and obtain a copy of your police report. You can also find information about credit bureaus, check-processing companies, and other referral resources.
Consumer Protection | Frauds and Scams | Texas Attorney General — On this section of the Attorney General’s website, you can find “five hooks” that are tell-tale signs of scams. You can also learn what to do if you or your family member is a victim. Use this website to file a consumer complaint.
White Collar Crime Defense Lawyers in Houston, TX
If you were arrested or believe that you could be under investigation for an alleged white collar criminal offense in Harris County, it is in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal representation. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys in Houston help individuals in communities throughout Harris County, Friendswood, Pearland, Seabrook, League City, Deer Park, Pasadena, La Porte, Galena Park, Baytown and many others. You can have our lawyers provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (832) 530-4070 or complete an online contact form to receive a free, confidential consultation.