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White Collar / Environmental Crimes

Dublin Attorney for Individuals and Businesses Facing Criminal Charges

For more than five decades, John W. Noonan has advocated for clients facing serious criminal charges or investigation. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Noonan is prepared to examine evidence from the perspective of law enforcement. He understands how the prosecution builds white collar and environmental cases, and can identify the weaknesses in their evidence. Attorney Noonan is also familiar with business practices and regulations relevant to both white collar crimes as well as environmental crimes. If you have been accused of illegal conduct at the state or federal level, a seasoned Dublin white collar crime lawyer can help you seek to have your charges reduced or dismissed, while providing you with knowledge of your legal options. From our offices in Dublin and Manteca, we are available to represent clients across the Tri-Valley area.

Asserting a Defense When Facing Charges for White Collar Crimes

White collar crime refers to non-violent offenses committed for financial gain. Often, professionals are accused of these crimes, particularly those working in business or finance. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, white collar crime includes “lying, cheating, and stealing.” Theft of money or other items of value, but without the threat of force, may fall under the category of financial or white collar crimes.

The State of California or the federal government may file charges for white collar crimes. The consequences for a conviction of a white collar crime can include fines, jail time, and a permanent record. These types of crimes include both misdemeanor and felony charges such as fraud, bribery, forgery, and money laundering. In some cases, victim restitution may be required.

It is important for individuals and business owners to understand that they can commit white collar offenses without intent, or even awareness. There is much debate about the required mindset, or level of intent, required for conviction under several white collar crime laws. Mail and wire fraud statutes, for example, require an intent to defraud, not intent to violate a law. For this reason, seemingly innocent accounting filings, wire transfers, and use of the mails may be deemed criminal in certain circumstances. White collar crime also includes bank fraud, forgery, and tax evasion.

Bank Fraud

Bank fraud is broadly defined under federal law, and states that those who knowingly execute or attempt fraud upon an institution or obtain money owned by a financial institution through false or fraudulent pretenses will be fined, imprisoned, or both. Any “scheme or artifice” used to “defraud a financial institution” falls under the purview of bank fraud. Generally, banks and credit unions are considered financial institutions under the law, as they are federally insured. Other institutions such as Federal Reserve banks and mortgage lending businesses may also be considered financial institutions.

As a defense to bank fraud, the defendant may assert they did not meet the “knowingly” element of the crime. In order to be convicted of bank fraud, the prosecution must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly took action. If there was no criminal intent to defraud the bank, the charges cannot stand.

In some cases, defendants are falsely accused, as legal transactions may be mistaken as bank fraud. Additionally, if evidence in a bank fraud investigation was obtained in an unconstitutional manner, then a motion to suppress may be appropriate. This evidence should not be allowed in court, and the prosecution’s case may be dropped without that evidence. As in other criminal cases, defendants are entitled to constitutional protections, including freedom from illegal searches and seizures.

It is important to note that California maintains a sentencing enhancement for white collar crimes. If you have been convicted of other similar felonies, and have stolen over $100,000, you may face an enhancement. This may include longer imprisonment, more fines, or in some cases both.

State and Federal Environmental Criminal Offenses

Environmental crimes are those that violate an environmental statute or regulation set by the government. Federal and state laws make it a crime to fail to adhere to standards that specify how to deal with harmful substances, such as how to dispose of hazardous waste. Often, environmental violations pose a health risk to people and property. Criminal charges for environmental crimes can be filed against individuals as well as corporations.

Federal and state laws protect the environment from harm, with the Environmental Protection Agency directly responsible for implementing statutes such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act. California has its own emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants, as well as Water Quality Standards Programs. California environmental standards are strict, often exceeding regulations set by the federal government.

Criminal enforcement of environmental violations can lead to thousands of dollars in fines, probation, and imprisonment. Defendants may face misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the specific violations. For example, according to California law, failing to file a report of waste discharge may be charged as a misdemeanor, while violating Clean Water Act program requirements may be charged as a felony, carrying fines of $5,000 to $25,000 for each day of violation, as well as imprisonment. Because of the scope of this Act, it is possible for clients to inadvertently violate a law and be charged with an environmental crime.

Certain environmental criminal offenses do not require intent, and a defendant’s mistake or lack of knowledge will not serve as a defense. For example, for the charge of discharging pollutants into navigable waters, it is not a defense to claim that you were unaware that the material was a pollutant. Attorney John Noonan is familiar with federal and state environmental policies, and represents clients facing charges or investigation for environmental violations. Often, handling cases prior to indictment can help avoid criminal charges.

Consult an Experienced White Collar and Environmental Crimes Lawyer in Dublin

Dublin attorney John W. Noonan is prepared to aggressively assert your rights if you are facing charges of white collar or environmental crimes. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Noonan relies on his litigation experience to refute or reduce criminal charges when possible. Whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, our office can help you understand your next steps. Mr. Noonan serves clients throughout the East Bay and the Tri-Valley area, including in Manteca, Stockton, Hayward, Dublin, Fremont, and other nearby communities. Call our office at (877) 463-3390 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.