As defined by the Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI), white-collar crimes are “characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence.” White-collar criminal offenses can be charged at both the state and federal levels, and they can be among the most complex types of legal cases. In this article, our white-collar crime lawyer in Chicago provides a guide to some of the most common white-collar criminal charges and the associated penalties in Illinois.
Six of the Most Common White Collar Criminal Charges and Penalties in Illinois
- Identity Theft
In recent years, identity theft has become a more common criminal charge. Under Illinois identity theft law (720 ILCS 5/16-30), the crime of identity theft occurs when someone uses that sensitive personally-identifying information of another in order to commit fraud. Some examples include falsely obtaining credit, money, goods, or services. Identity theft is a felony criminal offense in Illinois. Though, the severity of the charge will depend on the specific circumstances, including the value of the credit, money, goods, or services that were illegally obtained.
The Penalties: When identity theft is charged as a Class 4 felony ($300 or less), the crime carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison. When identity theft is charged as a Class X felony ($100,000 or more), a conviction can carry 6 to 30 years in prison.
- Credit Card Fraud
In Illinois, credit card fraud occurs when a person unlawfully uses or accesses credit in order to make an unauthorized purchase. Depending on the specific nature of the allegations, credit card fraud in Illinois can either be charged as a misdemeanor offense or a felony offense.
The Penalties: Counterfeit credit card use may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor offense carrying maximum penalties of 1 year in prison, 2 years probation, and a $2,500 fine. Though, Class 4 felony credit card fraud can carry penalties of up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Forgery occurs when a person knowingly makes a fake document or knowingly alters a document in an unauthorized manner in order to commit a fraudulent act. Under Illinois forgery law (720 ILCS 5/17-3 (a)), forgery can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, Class 4 felony, or Class 3 felony. Most often, a forgery offense in the state is charged as a Class 3 felony. A Class 3 felony is the most serious of the three classifications.
The Penalties: Forgery can carry very serious criminal penalties in Illinois. When forgery is charged as a Class 3 felony offense, it carries penalties of 2 to 3 years in prison, probation, a $25,000 fine, and payment of full financial restitution to the affected parties.
The crime of embezzlement occurs when a person takes advantage of a privileged position of trust in order to steal money or misappropriate funds or assets. In many embezzlement cases, the allegations are that a person took money or property from their employer without authorization. Though, the employer-employee relationship is not a required element. Under Illinois state law (720 ILCS 5/16-1(b)), a non-employee in a position of trust may be charged with embezzlement.
The Penalties: The criminal penalties for embezzlement in Illinois vary largely on the value of the money, goods, or services that were allegedly taken. Embezzlement of less than $500 is a Class A misdemeanor offense in Illinois. It is punishable by one year in prison and a $2,500 fine. On the other end of the spectrum, embezzlement in excess of $1 million is a Class X felony carrying a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Other embezzlement cases fall in between the penalties.
- Money Laundering
Broadly defined, money laundering is the act of disguising funds obtained from an illegal source, such as financial fraud or drug trafficking, in a manner designed to make those funds appear as though they came from legitimate sources. Money laundering is a serious criminal offense in Illinois. Also often charged as a federal crime, the State of Illinois has its own money-laundering statute on the books.
The Penalties: As with most other white-collar criminal offenses in Illinois, the penalties for money laundering vary largely based on the value of funds in question. Money laundering of less than $10,000 in a Class 3 felony offense. It carries maximum criminal penalties of up to 5 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Money laundering of $100,000 to $500,000 is a Class 1 felony offense that carries up to 15 years behind bars and a $25,000 fine.
- Mail and Wire Fraud
Finally, it is crucial that you have an understanding of mail and wire fraud offenses. These are some of the most common white-collar criminal charges filed in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Mail and wire fraud are state crimes with a federal counterpart.
A defendant accused of mail or wire fraud could be indicted on federal criminal charges. In effect, a person who mails or uses electronic means to carry out a fraud scheme could face mail fraud charges and/or wire fraud charges. The use of the internet or a telephone line in the course of a fraud scheme could result in a wire fraud charge. When mail and wire fraud involves any sort of interstate activity, a defendant may be charged with a federal crime.
The Penalties: Both mail and wire fraud are Class 3 felonies in Illinois. Though, federal mail and wire fraud charges are even more severe. Under federal law, a conviction on a single count of either mail fraud or wire fraud could lead to a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.
Call Our Chicago Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Today
At The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, our Illinois white-collar criminal defense lawyers are aggressive, results-centered advocates for our clients. Tough times call for a tough attorney. If you or your loved one was arrested on a white-collar criminal charge, we can help.
Contact The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman today at 312.726.9015 to set up a strictly confidential consultation. With a law office in Chicago, we provide white-collar defense representation throughout the region, including in Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, and Kendall County.