White Collar Crime Punishments & Defenses in Texas

What are the consequences of forgery, bribery, embezzlement, money laundering, fraud or other white collar offenses in Texas?

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If you or a family member face a non-violent theft charge such as forgery, bribery, embezzlement, money laundering or fraud, you should be aware of the Texas Penal Code’s punishments for such offenses — commonly known as white collar crimes — and the possible legal defenses against them.

Felony white collar offenses

If the amount of money that is stolen or embezzled is more than $1,500, the crime becomes a felony white collar offense. Depending on the charge and the amount stolen, Texas penalties for felony white collar crimes can be quite severe, even though they are non-violent crimes.

Consider these possible charges and punishments for white collar crimes in Texas:

  • Theft of $1,500 to $20,000 is a state jail felony. Texas punishments are from 180 days to 2 years in jail, and a fine of as much as $10,000.

  • Theft of $20,000 to $100,000 is a third degree felony. Texas punishments are from 2 to 10 years in prison, and a fine of as much as $10,000.

  • Theft of $100,000 to $200,000 is a second degree felony. Texas punishments are from 2 to 20 years in prison, and a fine of as much as $10,000.

  • Theft of more than $200,000 is a first degree felony. Texas punishments are from 5 to 99 years in prison, and a fine of as much as $10,000.

Keep in mind that white collar crimes also may involve federal charges for the same offense.

Also, the penalties for a state or federal charge could be worse if the accused person:

  • Has a prior criminal history
  • Caused harm to a large number of people
  • Defrauded an older person
  • Stole a particularly large amount of money

In such cases, punishment may go beyond the typical statutory penalties.

Misdemeanor white collar offenses

Some white collar offenses are misdemeanors, with lower penalties than for felonies. The degree of punishment is largely determined by the amount of money that was stolen. A conviction in Texas for a misdemeanor white collar offense can bring a fine of $500 to $4,000, a prison sentence of as much as 1 year, or both.

On the low end, a Class C misdemeanor involves stolen property of less than $50, and the punishment is a fine of not more than $500. No jail time is involved.

When the amount stolen was worth $50 to $500, the offense becomes a Class B misdemeanor. For that offense, the punishment includes a fine of up to $2,000, a jail sentence of as much as 180 days, or both.

If the amount stolen was worth $500 to $1,500, then the theft becomes a Class A misdemeanor. For that offense, the punishment includes a fine of up to $4,000, a jail sentence of as much as 1 year, or both.

Defenses against white collar crime charges

Clearly, with the prospect of high fines and possibly spending years in prison, defendants need a skilled, knowledgeable and experienced white collar crime defense lawyer to protect their legal rights. Such an attorney can provide legal defenses against white collar crime charges.

First, be advised that the prosecution has the highest burden of proof and must show that you committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Beyond that, your embezzlement or white collar crime defense attorney may be able to establish that you committed the crime out of duress or coercion. That is, someone may have forced you or compelled you to commit the criminal act.

Your defense lawyer may also be able to prove that entrapment occurred. This means that the law enforcement officers who arrested you only did so after convincing or persuading you to commit the crime, which you wouldn’t have done without their persuasion. Such entrapment often occurs when undercover agents are involved, and these agents lead a person to commit a crime which otherwise they wouldn’t have committed.

Another defense against a white collar crime charge is incapacity. This means that for mental or physical reasons, you were unable to have committed the crime.

Yet another defense for someone charged with a white collar crime is intoxication. That is, it could be proven that you were intoxicated due to alcohol or some other drug at the time the crime was committed. Intoxication might at least mitigate, or lessen, the severity of the claim against you.

Finally, some individuals are able to use the insanity defense by claiming that they suffered severe mental illness and were not responsible for the crime.

Consult Houston’s best white collar theft defense lawyer

At this point you may be asking:

Who is Houston’s best defense lawyer for cases of theft or other white collar crimes?

Ultimately, that is for you to decide.

But know this:

The Neal Davis Law Firm recently received the honor of being named a Metropolitan Tier 1 law firm for Criminal Defense-White Collar by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers for their Tenth Edition of “Best Law Firms” rankings.

Also, the 26th edition of Best Lawyers in America (2015-2022) honored Neal Davis not only for his work in Criminal Defense: General Practice but also for his work in Criminal Defense: White Collar.

If you or a loved one faces a white collar crime charge, contact the Neal Davis Law Firm today for a legal review of your case. You need a strong legal defense against possibly severe punishments in Texas for white collar offenses.

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