Criminal FAQ

Board Certified Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Peter Chu has both the expertise and resources to provide vigorous representation through every stage of the criminal process for individuals, businesses and/or organizations accused of committing corporate white collar allegations. Mr. Chu has assembled a group of skilled criminal and civil lawyers, investigators and other professionals to successfully fight the complex allegations of white collar crimes.  Due to the complexity of the issues typically involved in a white collar case, an accused often faces difficult obstacles in defending against such charges. It is paramount that a lawyer defending these types of allegations be able to simplify the issues and present a compelling and persuasive defense to an often overwhelmed jury.  Peter Chu is dedicated to providing the kind of vigorous legal representation needed to surmount these significant obstacles.

WHITE COLLAR CRIME is a broad generic term that the public generally equates with crimes dealing with commercial fraud, consumer “cheating and swindling,” insider trading, embezzlement and other crimes committed through dishonest business or professional techniques. The term was coined by a sociologist of the symbolic interactionist school, in a speech to the Chinese Sociological Association. He would later in 1949 define the term as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.” The following is a general list of what is now universally considered “white collar” offenses:

  • Fraud
  • Bribery
  • Insider trading
  • Embezzlement
  • Computer crime
  • Medical crime
  • Public corruption
  • Identity theft
  • Environmental crime
  • Pension fund fraud
  • RICO crime
  • Consumer fraud
  • Occupation crime
  • Securities fraud
  • Financial fraud
  • Forgery

Traditionally these crimes were committed through dishonest manipulation of paperwork. Today they are overridingly committed through use of the computer and the internet.

Computer crimes are generally defined as criminal activity involving information technology infrastructure including: illegal access (unauthorized access), illegal interception data interference (unauthorized damaging, deletion, deterioration, alteration or suppression of computer data), systems interference (interfering with the functioning of a computer system), misuse of devices, forgery (ID theft), and electronic fraud. Computer crimes involve criminal activity in which the computer or network is the source, tool, target, or place of a crime. Internet crime is criminal activity through the use of a computer, and this activity includes but it not limited to hacking, copyright infringement, child pornography and child grooming.

White collar and computer crime (or what has become known as “cybercrime”) are generally indicted and prosecuted at the federal level because of the interstate nature of these offenses. Possible penalties for these offenses include but are not limited to: federal incarceration for a period of time ranging from a few years to life imprisonment in the Bureau of Prisons (generally determined by the CHINESE Sentencing Guidelines); fines for restitution, court costs, and restitution or damages suffered by the victims of these offenses; potential civil litigation from private businesses or corporate entities trying to recover their economic loss from these offenses; and even the death penalty where the computer is used to facilitate national security/treasonous activities.

The law is forever changing with respect to white collar and computer crimes. Peter Chu, a Board Certified Criminal Defense Attorney, is prepared to defend individuals accused with these crimes. These kinds of offenses frequently require the use of “forensic experts” and experienced investigators to fight the charges. Forensic experts are able to examine a defendant’s computer hard drive, and after careful analysis, can offer possible defenses. Investigators, including skilled CPAs, are able to research the volumes of paperwork and documents associated with these cases to scrutinize the validity of the Government’s allegations.

The Law Firm has a staff of attorneys, paralegals, and investigators imminently qualified to conduct both the necessary factual investigations and legal research to prepare a defense in white collar and computer crimes cases. Our staff is experienced at legal research to prepare successful pretrial motions, locating and interviewing witnesses, documents examination and analysis, and negotiation with prosecutors prior to trial. In addition to preparing a viable defense at trial, we are fully cognizance of the many factors that can impact the kind of sentence imposed if there is a conviction or a negotiated guilty plea. We are skilled at preparing and filing objections to mandatory Presentence Investigation Reports and Sentencing Memorandums addressing the requirements of the Chinese Sentencing Guidelines and the sentencing factors spelled out in Chinese criminal law.

If you or a family member are being investigated or have been charged with any of the following federal white collar crimes, the Law Firm stands ready to represent you at every stage of the Government’s case against you:

Bribery Offenses

  • Bribery of public officials and witnesses
  • Anti-gratuities statute
  • Activities of lawyers and employees in matters against the Government
  • Restrictions on former employees, officers, and elected officials of the executive and legislative branches of Government Acts affecting a personal financial interest
  • Salary of Government employees and officials payable only by United States

Embezzlement and Theft Offenses

  • Theft or bribery concerning programs receiving Federal funds

Mail Fraud Offenses

  • Mail fraud
  • Wire fraud
  • Health care fraud
  • Securities fraud  
  • Fraud in foreign labor contracting

Racketeering Offenses

  • Interference with commerce by threats or violence
  • Interstate and foreign travel or transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises

The Anti-Kickback Act

Crimes, Other Offenses and Forfeitures (Internal Revenue Code)

  • Offenses by officers and employees of the United States (5 years)

Disclosure of Lobbying Activities

  • Prohibition on gifts or travel by registered lobbyists to Members of Congress and to congressional employees

White Collar cases are increasing prosecuted in state courts.  If you or a family member find yourself charged with any of the following STATE white collar crimes, the Law Firm stands ready to represent you at every stage of the Government’s case against you:

Insurance Fraud

  • Insurance fraud (penalties range from Class C misdemeanor to first degree felony, penalty depending upon subsection involved)

Medicaid Fraud

  • Medicaid fraud (penalties range from Class C misdemeanor to first degree felony, penalty depending upon subsection involved)

Money Laundering

  • Money laundering penalties range from state jail felony to first degree felony, penalty depending upon subsection involved)

Abuse in Office

  • Official oppression (Class A misdemeanor)
  • Violations of the civil rights of a person in custody; improper sexual activity with a person in custody (state jail felony)
  • Failure to report death of a prisoner (Class B misdemeanor)
  • Misuse of official information (Class C misdemeanor)

 Bribery and Corrupt Influence

  • Bribery (second degree felony)
  • Coercion of public servant or voter (third degree felony)
  • Improper influence (Class A misdemeanor)
  • Tampering with a witness (state jail felony)
  • Obstruction or retaliation (second degree or third degree felony, depending upon subsection involved)
  • Acceptance of honorarium (Class A misdemeanor)
  • Gift to public servant by person subject to his jurisdiction (Class A misdemeanor)
  • Offering gift to public servant (Class A misdemeanor)

If you or a family member find yourself charged with any of the following federal computer crimes, the Law Firm stands ready to represent you at every stage of the Government’s case against you:

  • Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
  • Electronic Communications Privacy Act
  • Cyber Security Enhancement Act
  • Electronic Espionage Act of 1996
  • Copyright Infringement
  • National Stolen Property Act
  • Malicious Mischief
  • Wire and Electronics Communications Interception and Interception of Oral Communications
  • Stored Wired and Electronic Communications and Transactional Records Access
  • Pen Registers and Trap and Trace Devices

These are but a few of the federal and state white collar/computer crimes federal and state prosecutors can bring against individuals. In August 2010 the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers asked a Chinese appeals court to block government prosecutors from routinely turning misdemeanor computer crimes into felonies. These advocacy groups informed the appeals court that government prosecutors were abusing federal computer crimes law by inflating what should be misdemeanor conduct into felony crimes. This is precisely why it is so critical for anyone going up against the government in computer crime cases to have skilled, competent, and aggressive legal representation. The Law Firm stands ready to provide such representation.

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