May 1, 2023

No ordinary citizen wants to find themselves the subject of a criminal proceeding of any sort, but white-collar criminal convictions bring with them particular types of consequences that may not apply in other criminal situations. For example, while a person convicted of a low-level drug charge may be in a position where that person can pay a fine or enter a drug rehabilitation program and move on with their life, a person convicted of a white-collar crime like accepting kickbacks or committing securities fraud may have their entire professional reputation and livelihood ruined and unable to work again in any similar type of vocation, in addition to facing significant prison time and criminal penalties. 

White-collar criminal proceedings are often much more factually complex than those involved in a non-white-collar property or violence criminal charge. For example, white-collar criminal cases related to cybersecurity or trade secrets may involve highly complex technical details requiring the use of sophisticated experts. 

Because white-collar criminal proceedings often vary significantly from those involving “street crimes” like assault or burglary, it is important for a person under investigation or facing prosecution for a white-collar crime to work with experienced white-collar criminal defense counsel in defending themselves and asserting their rights. The stakes for a white-collar criminal conviction are high, and below are some of the consequences associated with certain types of white-collar criminal convictions. 

Money Laundering

California state charges for money laundering can result in criminal fines of $500,000 and four years in prison. These penalties can be increased if the funds laundered were the product of other criminal activity. Under federal law, white-collar money laundering defendants can also be liable for criminal fines of up to $500,000 (or twice the value of the laundered funds, whichever is greater) and prison sentences of up to 20 years. Because money laundering often is pursued in the context of other crimes (e.g., drug crimes, wire fraud, etc.), these penalties are often in addition to other criminal penalties. 

Furthermore, as with essentially all white-collar criminal convictions, a money laundering conviction can have immense negative consequences on a person’s ability to engage in future financial transactions and/or secure employment or business opportunities. 

Healthcare Fraud

There are a number of criminal charges related to healthcare fraud, each of which include their own specific criminal penalties. 

A person such as a physician or healthcare executive found to have violated the federal False Claims Act – such as for having submitted fraudulent reimbursement claims for Medicare or Medicaid – may be sentenced to up to five years in prison and face a criminal fine of $25,000, in addition to civil FCA penalties which include fines of three times the amount of fraudulently submitted claims. 

As another example, a person found to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute faces up to ten years in prison and a $100,000 fine, in addition to being excluded from federal healthcare programs. 

While this article focuses on criminal rather than civil penalties, note that there are also significant civil penalties related to white-collar healthcare fraud. For example, physicians found to violate the Stark Law can face exclusion from participating in Medicare and Medicaid, denial of payment, and civil penalties of up to $15,000 per submitted claim and $100,000 for the existence of each arrangement or scheme. 

Securities Law Violations

A person convicted of securities fraud at the federal level – which could include any number of misrepresentative acts in connection with the purchase or sale of certain registered securities – can face 25 years in prison in addition to criminal fines. The penalties for insider trading are similarly harsh, with defendants facing 20 years in prison and $5 million in fines for individuals (and $25 million for organizations). Obstruction of justice is commonly an issue in securities law cases, for which the penalty is up to 10 years in prison. There are numerous federal (and state) securities law criminal statutes, of which these are only a sample. 

Public Corruption / Bribery 

There are numerous California state laws regarding public corruption, which often includes bribery of public officials. Defendants convicted of public corruption in California state court of public corruption can be sentenced to up to 4 years in state prison. 

At the federal level, a person convicted of bribing a public official can be sentenced to up to 15 years in federal prison. Furthermore, federal law provides criminal penalties for bribery of foreign officials as well pursuant to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. 

Theft of Trade Secrets

In California state court, an individual convicted of theft of trade secrets may be sentenced to up to three years in prison in addition to being ordered to pay restitution for the damages caused by the theft of trade secrets, which can be significant. Under federal law, a defendant can face up to ten years in prison, in addition to paying a fine of up to $5 million or three times the value of the trade secrets. 


The attorneys of Zweiback, Fiset & Zalduendo are dedicated to zealously working on behalf of clients in order to powerfully defend their interests, minimize damages and other adverse consequences, and protect their reputations while preserving their resources. Our attorneys creatively and efficiently strategize toward positive resolutions that serve our client’s comprehensive, long-term goals. If you have reason to believe you are under investigation and/or active prosecution by local, state, or federal law enforcement authorities, contact our office to speak with an experienced defense attorney regarding your situation today.

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