If you've been charged with a crime, the Prosecution has the burden to prove you guilty. If they don't have enough evidence, or the right kind of evidence, they may not be able to prove you guilty!
All crimes have certain "Elements" that must be met in order for the prosecution to be able to prove you guilty. If we can prevent them from being able to prove even one element, you are going to have a much better chance of getting the outcome you want!
So what is an Element of a crime? The best way to explain it is to just show the elements for a few White Collar Crimes (for example Embezzlement, False Pretenses, and Forgery). Elements are different for every crime, but most White Collar related crimes will have similar elements.
There are several variations on this offense, so the following elements may vary somewhat, depending on the exact charges.
No person may be convicted of embezzlement unless the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. These elements are:
Third, personal property;
Fourth, with a value of (less than $1,000)/($1,000-$2,499.99)/($2,500-$14,999.99)/($15,000 or more);
Fifth, of a person/(legal entity);
Sixth, to any use or purpose not intended or authorized by its owner;
Seventh, where the property was legally obtained; and
Eighth, the property was entrusted to the defendant for a specific purpose/use/disposition, including any funds "held in trust" for any purpose.
This means that, in order for the prosecution to be able to prove you guilty of Embezzlement, they have to prove that you: fraudulently appropriated personal property, with a certain value (the value determines the degree of offense and the range of punishment) of a person or legal entity (like a business), and used the property for an unauthorized purpose; where the property was legally obtained and entrusted to you for a specific purpose.
This charge often comes up when a person is accused of taking money or property from their employer. In that situation, the person legally obtained the property, it was entrusted to them, but they used it for an unauthorized purpose. For example, if a person worked at a retail store and accepted payment from a customer (legally obtained for a specific purpose), but then they kept the money for themselves (used for an unauthorized purpose.
If you were charged with a different white collar offense, for example, False Pretenses, the elements would be similar, but different.
The Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions states that:
No person may be convicted of false pretense unless the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. These elements are:
First, obtained title;
Second, to money/property/(a valuable thing);
Third, of another;
Fourth, valued (less than $1,000)/($1,000-$2,499.99)/($2,500-$14,999.99)/($15,000 or more);
Fifth, by means of a (trick or deception)/(false representation)/(confidence game)/(false check)/(false written/printed/engraved instrument)/ (spurious coin);
Sixth, known by the defendant to be false/spurious/(a trick or deception);
Seventh, with intent to cheat and defraud.
This means that, in order for the prosecution to be able to prove you guilty of False Pretenses, they have to prove that you: obtained title to money or property, with a certain value (the value determines the degree of offense and the range of punishment) that belongs to another, by means of trick, false check, etc., where you knew it was false, and you intended to cheat the person.
One more example of elements for white collar offenses:
The Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions states that:
No person by be convicted of forgery unless the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. These elements are:
First, offering/publishing as genuine;
Second, a false (writing having legal significance)/coin;
Third, with a value of [$1,000/$2,500/$15,000] or more;
Fourth, known by the defendant to be false;
Fifth, with the intent to defraud.
This means that, in order for the prosecution to be able to prove you guilty of Forgery, they have to prove that you: offered a false writing (e.g. a check or other financial document) as genuine, with a certain value, you knew the writing was false, and you intended to defraud.
There are other white collar charges, but hopefully the above information gives you an idea of the types of things that the prosecution has to prove, and the potential defenses that can be used to your advantage. Other white charges include:
As you can see, the elements for the various white collar related charges are similar. So the Defenses that we would explore would involve looking at potential weaknesses in any of these elements.
The document was not false,
Or if it was false, you did not know that the document was false,
The value of the money/property is less than what is alleged,
You had permission to have possession/use of the property,
You used the property for an authorized purpose,
You did not obtain the property by fraud or deception,
The signature/forgery was not done by you, etc.
If you have been charged with a White Collar Crime, contact Fassio Law today by phone or e-mail so that we can help you! 405-593-8444 or [email protected]
Serving the OKC Metro Area: Oklahoma County (Oklahoma City, Edmond), Cleveland County (Norman, Moore) and Canadian County (El Reno, Yukon, Mustang)