What do Charles Ponzi, Bernie Madoff, and Jordan Belfort – the man whom the film The Wolf of Wall Street is based on – all have in common?
They were all convicted of white collar crimes.
Ponzi served numerous years in prison in both Canada and the United States. Belfort served 22 months of a 4-year sentence and was also ordered to pay $110 million in restitution. Madoff, who is still incarcerated in a federal prison, was sentenced to 150 years and a forfeiture of $17 billion.
From these three high-profile examples, you can see that white collar crimes – crimes that are financially motivated and committed by business and government professionals – carry quite severe penalties even though they are nonviolent. They can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, generally depending on the amount of money involved in the criminal acts.
Let’s explore two different Colorado white collar crimes – check fraud and embezzlement – to understand what they are and what the consequences might be if you’re charged.
Check Fraud in Colorado
If you don’t have enough funds in your bank account and you write someone a check, you could potentially be charged with fraud by check if – when you wrote the check – you intended to defraud your bank. If you didn’t intend to defraud and you were just unaware of your account balance, then you are not guilty of check fraud.
With white collar crimes, intent is a major factor in determining whether a crime was committed.
Fraud by check can be a petty offense, a misdemeanor, or a felony, depending on the amount the check was for and the type of account it came from.
- If the check was for under $50, you can be charged with a class 1 petty offense punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $50-$500 in fines.
- If the check was for $50-$300, you can be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $50-$750 in fines.
- If the check was for $300-$750, you can be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by 3 months to 1 year in jail and $250-$1,000 in fines.
- If the check was more than $2,000, drawn on an account that doesn’t exist, or drawn on an account closed for 30 days or more, you can be charged with a class 6 felony punishable by 1 year to 18 months in jail and $1,000-$100,000 in fines.
Embezzlement in Colorado
If you are entrusted to manage or pay attention to someone’s money or property and instead you steal all or part of it for your own person gain, you could be charged with embezzlement. Although you have access to the money or property, you don’t actually own it, so taking it for yourself is a crime.
Like with check fraud, you can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the money or property.
- If the embezzled amount was less than $500, you can be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by 3 months to 1 year in jail and $250-$1,000 in fines.
- If the embezzled amount was $500-$1,000, you can be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by 6 months to 18 months in jail and $500-$5,000 in fines.
- If the embezzled amount was less than $1,000-$20,000, you can be charged with a class 4 felony punishable by 2-6 years in jail and $2,000-$500,000 in fines.
- If the embezzled amount was more than $20,000, you can be charged with a class 3 felony punishable by 4-12 years in jail and $3,000-$750,000 in fines.
Don’t let a check fraud or embezzlement charge ruin the rest of your life. Contact an experienced Colorado white collar crime attorney today to fight for your rights.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.