White-collar crimes are non-violent crimes that mainly involve professionals and are committed for financial gain. The offense may include millions of dollars or small amounts of money. The punishment for white-collar crimes in California depends on several factors, including the extent of the alleged crime and the losses incurred by the victim.  If you are facing charges for a white-collar crime, contact us at the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney for legal representation.

Common Types of White-collar Crimes

There are several types of white-collar crimes in California. The crimes typically involve money or property entrusted to an individual's possession, such as an employee, bookkeeper, or accountant. White-collar crimes in California fall under several categories, including fraud, embezzlement, and theft by pretense, among others. You commit a white-collar crime in California every time you commit an act that leads to undeserved or unfair benefits to yourself as you cause harm to another person. Two motives mainly drive white-collar crimes, which are financial gain and the desire to escape criminal liability.

Theft by False Pretense

According to California law Penal Code 484 PC, it is an offense to defraud another person knowingly to gain title to property or money through fraudulent or false representation.  For you to face conviction under Penal Code 484 PC, the prosecutor needs to show several elements of the crime. It must be true that you deceive a property or money owner by false pretense, and you did so intentionally and knowingly. It must also be evident that you committed the act to persuade the owner to allow you or another individual to possess or own the property. The prosecutor should also prove that the property owner granted you ownership of the property because he/she relied on your false pretense. 

The punishment you receive for an offense of theft by false pretense will depend on whether the court prosecutes the crime like petty theft or grand theft. The severity of the punishment you receive will also depend on whether the prosecutor charges the offense as a misdemeanor or a felony. For a misdemeanor offense, you may serve jail time not exceeding one year in county jail. You might also have to pay a fine that does not exceed $1,000. For a felony offense of theft by false pretense, you may serve an imprisonment of 16 months, two years, or three years in county jail. You might also have to pay a fine that does not exceed $10,000. If you receive a petty theft conviction, you may serve jail time for six months in county jail and pay a fine not exceeding $1,000. 


The California Penal Code 503 PC outlines the crime of embezzlement. Embezzlement is distinct from the crimes of theft and fraud because the property owner entrusts his/her property to the defendant, but the defendant abuses this trust.  It is illegal to take another person's property entrusted to you.  The prosecutor needs to show several elements to show that you are guilty of embezzlement under Penal Code 503 PC. It must be true that the property owner entrusted his or her property to you. Furthermore, the owner had trust in you, but you fraudulently used or converted the property for your own gain. It must also be true that you intend to deprive/deny the property owner of the use and enjoyment of the property.

Like many other white-collar crimes in California, embezzlement is a wobbler offense, and you may face misdemeanor or felony charges.  For a misdemeanor conviction, the applicable jail time is up to one year. You might also have to pay a fine that does not exceed $1,000. For a felony conviction, you will serve prison time. The imprisonment period may vary from 16 months, two years, or three years.

Insurance Fraud

There are several forms of insurance fraud crimes in California. Different types of frauds may have different penalties. Some of the typical types of fraud crimes include California automobile fraud offenses. Automobile insurance fraud entails trying to obtain money from an insurance company in a fraudulent manner. You may do this by staging an accident, which did not occur. You might also exaggerate the price of an automobile insurance claim. You might also report your vehicle as stolen to gain the compensation you do not deserve.

California health insurance frauds are also common. Many players may participate in carrying out healthcare insurance fraud, including pharmacists, doctors, medical equipment suppliers, and other hospital employees.  Various ways of carrying out healthcare insurance fraud include charging or billing for medical services that were not offered. Health practitioners may also prescribe certain drugs to receive kickbacks. Over-billing and double billing of services given to patients is also a common form of a healthcare insurance claim. 

Most health insurance fraud claims go hand-in-hand with Medi-Cal insurance fraud. Medi-Cal refers to a health insurance program in California that assists low-income persons. A doctor may perform Medi-Cal fraud if he/she bills Medi-Cal, yet he/she did not render the quoted health services.

Unemployment insurance fraud is also common in the state of California. This fraud entails attempting to increase, deny, or reduce an unemployment insurance benefit. You may commit this crime if you collect benefits in several states. You might also commit fraud by falsifying or exaggerating your work-search efforts. If you present false information about the termination of your employment, you may face fraud charges. Similarly, you may face fraud charges if you lie about your wages to avoid contributing to an unemployment insurance program.

Welfare frauds are also common in California and entail trying to increase or obtain welfare benefits that you do not deserve. Welfare fraud may be internal if it involves a government employee distributing welfare benefits or attempting to distribute illegal benefits from the agency. Welfare benefits may also consist of recipient fraud that entails trying to secure welfare benefits in a fraudulent manner.

California's workers' compensation fraud is also a common form of insurance fraud in California.  It is a form of fraud directed towards the California state workers' compensation insurance. It is common for people to exaggerate the extent of an injury or even fake an injury to seek compensation. People also tend to claim that non-work related injuries are work-related. You may face workers’ comp fraud charges if you fail to disclose a previous injury that may be relevant in making a workers' compensation claims. 

Financial Fraud

Financial frauds are aimed at gaining an undeserved financial gain. Some of the typical types of financial fraud in California include check frauds. You may face a conviction for check fraud if you make, use, or possess a check with the intent of defrauding the payee. You reveal the intent to commit fraud by presenting the check to be real or genuine. A check fraud crime is distinct from violations under California's bad check laws, which entails attempting to pass or passing a check knowing it was fake. 

Another common form of financial fraud is credit card fraud.  This is a form of fraud revolving around debit and credit cards or the account information linked to such cards. You may commit credit card fraud if you attempt to use another person's credit card without his/her consent. You might also commit fraud if you use your debit or credit card, yet you are aware that the card is expired or invalid. If you sell counterfeit debit and credit cards, you may face charges for credit card fraud. 

Securities fraud is also a common form of financial fraud in California.  This form of fraud also goes by the name investment or stock fraud. You may face securities fraud charges if you encourage investors to make decisions based on unreliable and false information. If you alter or counterfeit a company's financial statements or misstate the value of a company to mislead investors, you may face securities fraud charges. Players that mainly commit securities frauds include promoters, accountants, traders, and stock traders. 

Other common types of fraud in California include mortgage and real estate fraud. This fraud entails making an intentional and deliberate false representation concerning a real estate transaction. Typical types of real estate and mortgage fraud include foreclosure fraud, illegal property flipping, rent skimming, and phantom help schemes. 


The California Penal Code 470 PC outlines the crime of forgery. It is unlawful to use false, unauthorized, or an altered document with an aim to defraud another person.  The prosecutor needs to show several elements of fraud before convicting you. The prosecutor needs to show that you signed another individual's name on a document, and you did not have permission or authority to sign. It must be true that you were aware that you did not have the authority to sign. The intent also matters, and the prosecutor needs to show that when you signed the document, you had the intent to defraud another person.  Forgery is a wobbler offense under California law and may attract misdemeanor or felony charges.

There are several forms of forgery crimes in California. You may face forgery charges if you forge, counterfeit, or possessing a fraudulent public seal. A public seal may be a seal of the government, a corporation, or a government agency.  If you forge a public seal on a document bearing another person's identity, you will also face charges for violating California's identity theft laws.

 You may face a conviction for forgery under California law if you counterfeit or forge a driver's license or identity card. This offense involves altering a Government Issue driver's license or identity card. The law does not only apply to California issued documents but also applies to identity cards and licenses issued in other states.

Identity Theft

California Penal Code 530.5 PC outlines the crime of identity theft. It is illegal to obtain the personal identifying information of another person and use the information without the consent of the person for unlawful purposes. The prosecutor needs to show that you acquired or obtained another person identifying information. The prosecutor should also prove that you used the obtained information for an unlawful purpose. It must also be evident that you did not have the consent of the victim to use his/her personal identifying information.

The prosecutor may charge the crime of identity theft as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on your criminal history and circumstances of your case.  For a misdemeanor crime, you may get jail time not exceeding one year in county jail.  The court may also impose a fine that does not exceed $5,000.  For a felony conviction of identity theft, the penalties may include imprisonment in a California state prison. The imprisonment period may vary from 16 months, two years, or three years. The court may also impose a hefty fine of up to $10,000. 

Under 18 U.S.C. 1028, identity theft is a federal offense. Therefore, if you commit identity theft crime, you may face federal prosecution alongside the state-imposed penalties.  The federal law is more extensive that California law relating to identity theft. Under federal prosecution, you will face a harsher penalty. You may violate the federal law if you knowingly display another person's identity card without their consent. You might also violate federal law if you transfer stolen personal identification documents of another person. If you intentionally produce, transfer, traffic, or possess any equipment used in producing false identification documents, you may face prosecution under federal law. 

For a crime of federal identity theft, the applicable penalties include imprisonment of up to 15 years in federal prison. The court may also require you to pay a fine that does not exceed $250,000. In some instances, you may pay the fine and still serve the imprisonment depending on the severity of the offense. If you commit a crime of identity theft when carrying out a crime such as drug trafficking, you may face up to 20 years imprisonment in federal prison. You may face similar imprisonment if you engage in identity theft while carrying out a crime relating to violence. If you commit a crime of identity theft while facilitating domestic or international terrorism, you may serve an imprisonment of up to 30 years in federal prison. 

White Collar Crimes Involving Elders

There are several white-collar offenses, mainly fraud crimes, which revolve around elders.  The leading crime in California is senior fraud.  You may be guilty of senior fraud for emotionally, financially, or physically abusing an older adult above the age of 65 years. If the form of elder abuse is financial, it qualifies as a California senior fraud.  Some of the most typical types of senior fraud in California include home repair schemes, telemarketing schemes, and credit repair schemes. Cemetery and funeral senior frauds and real estate predatory lending involving an elder are also typical types of senior fraud. 

If an older adult suffers financial abuse while staying at a nursing home, the crime qualifies as a nursing home fraud.  For example, an employee in a nursing home may convince an older adult to transfer some of his or her property to the employee. Nursing home fraud may also occur if the nursing home overbills an older adult for the care provided. Fraud may also occur a person at the nursing home forges an older person's name on a check. 


The crime of bribery involves giving money or anything of value to a public official with a corrupt intent. You may give the bribe to illegally influence the public official's opinion, vote, or action in his or her official capacity.  Many forms of bribery involves public employees, judicial officers, witnesses, executive officers, and legislative officers. 

Money Laundering

The crime of money laundering entails taking money acquired from illegal sources and trying to make money appear as though it is from legitimate sources.  Most people commit the crime of money laundering while attempting to hide money from illegal sources like gambling. Other illegal sources of money include drug trafficking, drug sales, and bribery.  The penalties for the crime of money laundering in California include imprisonment for up to 3 years. The court may also require you to pay a fine that does not exceed $250,000. 

Other White Collar Crimes

Other forms of fraud in California include gambling fraud. According to California Penal code 332, it is illegal to obtain money or property from another person through scams, tricks, or card games. You may commit a gambling fraud if you cheat at a card game or other gambling activities. Gambling fraud may also involve fraudulent fortune-telling. The penalties for California gambling fraud will depend on the amount of money obtained through the fraud. If you commit a gambling fraud and you accumulate an amount of $950 or less, you will face misdemeanor charges. However, the crime of gambling fraud becomes a wobbler if you accumulate $950 or more from fraudulent activities. 

Other forms of white-collar crimes in California include California handicapped parking fraud, mail fraud, telemarketing fraud, and fraudulent vehicle registration stickers. 

Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer Near Me

If you are facing charges for a white-collar crime in California, we at the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney can help come up with a good defense strategy. Contact us at 424-333-0943 and talk to one of our experienced attorneys.