Criminal Defense Blog


What Is Federal Embezzlement?

Embezzlement is theft [18 US Code Chapter 31]. This crime occurs when a person in a position of trust lies, misappropriates, or transfers funds or property in an unlawful manner. For instance, an accountant may use false pretenses to enrich their bank account. Embezzlement can occur on many levels and with different types of tangible assets. Though the premise is the same, federal embezzlement is a bit different. It becomes a federal crime when an agency of the United States government is involved.

The value of the property or money affected is important in determining which federal laws will be applicable. For instance, if the value of the assets is more than $1,000, then jail time is possible. A person can be sentenced up to 10 years for this type of theft. It can include tangible property, materials, or public records. A fine will be attached, but it cannot exceed $250,000.

When the value of the theft is less than $1,000, then the maximum fine is $100,000 or less. The maximum jail time also decreases to a one-year term. While less than higher property value embezzlement, this is still a very serious crime that can have life change repercussions. Any tools or instruments that are used to make counterfeit currency is considered to be an aggravated crime. The fine in this instance will be $250,000 and a person can be sentenced up to ten years in prison. The United States Treasury typically invokes these provisions.

The most common application of federal embezzlement is taking public money. Anyone that is charged with theft of public funds may receive enhanced penalties for their crimes. The $1,000 benchmark determines a suitable sentence. Any embezzlement over $1,000 or more will result in a fine of up to $250,000, and it can lead up to a 10-year term in prison. When the theft is less in value, then the fine is substantially reduced and the prison term reduced to a year or under.

Anything under $1,000, will be classified as a misdemeanor, which brings about a lesser charge. Anything over $1,000 is charged as a felony. Depending on the amount, the prison term can be a few months or it can be up to thirty years. When sentencing the defendant, their criminal history and the extent of trust given will be taken into consideration.

With federal embezzlement, a point system was developed to help determine the appropriate sentence. The lowest number of points possible, which is considered six in a federal case, is called the “Base Offense Level.” According to the guidelines, 36 is the highest number of points a person can receive. If the loss is under $5,000, then six points are assigned. To receive 36 points, the loss must be over $400 million.

Almost all non-capital, federal crimes have a statute of limitations of five years, and a perpetrator cannot be punished unless an indictment is handed down within that time frame. Federal law does not provide a longer statute of limitations for embezzlement, though it is one of the few crimes that it does not.

For embezzlement, especially at the federal level, the punishments are severe. If you or a loved one has been charged or are being investigated for embezzlement, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney with a winning legal track record to fight for you. Carl Haggard of The Haggard Law Firm has over 30 years of experience and is licensed to practice in all Texas Federal Districts. Call (832) 328-0600 or email today to schedule a free confidential consultation and we will immediately go to work for you providing the best defense possible.

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Federal Embezzlement Attorney

White Collar Federal Crimes in Texas

When the term “white collar crime” comes up, it usually brings up images of professionals involved in financial crimes such as money laundering or embezzlement. For the most part, this characterization is true. Most white collar crime does involve money, deceit, and fraud within a business setting or involving government employees. White collar crime sometimes involves a large multi-layered fraud scheme, such as a pyramid scheme. Based on the nature and scope of the crimes, white collar crime can be prosecuted under both state and federal law.

The term white collar is itself used to reference the professionals who are often prosecuted or convicted on a wide range of financial crimes. These professionals wear a white collar to work, and are usually members of the educated middle to upper class. The person does not make the crime however, and just because a professional is arrested on a drug possession charge, does not mean that drug possession is also a white collar crime.

Examples of white collar crimes include:

  • Public corruption
  • Embezzlement fraud
  • Tax evasion
  • Tax fraud
  • Mortgage fraud
  • Health care fraud
  • Securities and commodities violations
  • Insider trading
  • Government bid rigging or procurement fraud
  • Internet crimes
  • Intellectual property theft

These are crimes that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) characterizes as white collar crimes. This list is not exhaustive, however, and there are many other crimes that fall into this category.

Consequences for While Collar Crime Conviction

Despite the common belief that people who face white collar charges may not be harshly prosecuted, white collar crimes are eligible for tough sentences under both the federal sentencing guidelines and Texas law. People convicted of white collar crimes can face many years in prison and monetary fines, or receive a combination of both prison time and fines. There is also no guarantee that a person convicted of a white collar crime will be sentenced to a minimum security prison. In addition, the government could try and recover the financial loss to the victims of the crime through asset forfeiture and disgorgement.

This means that the government will try and recover the profits from a business that benefited from the alleged crime, or take any assets that are attributed to the crime. Sometimes, asset forfeiture results in assets that have nothing to do with the charged crime being seized, as well. If the person who is convicted of a white collar crime has a professional license, he or she may lose this license after the conviction. Losing a professional license can mean that even after the person gets out of prison, he or she may have a hard time getting readjusted and making a living.

Federal Criminal Defense Attorney in Texas

If you are charged with a white collar crime or have received a letter from the FBI informing you that you are the target of an investigation, you need to contact a federal criminal defense attorney with experience handling white collar crimes. Carl Haggard has over 30 years of experience with a verified winning case record. Carl accepts cases in all Texas Federal Judicial Districts. You need your attorney with you before you speak to any state or federal law enforcement officers. Contact The Haggard Law Firm for a free confidential consultation regarding your case and we will go to work fighting for you!

White Collar Federal Attorney

Failure to Stop After a Houston Traffic Accident

Hit-and-run accidents are not simple matters that can be resolved by merely filing an insurance claim. For a driver who is involved in a car accident and then leaves the scene without providing his or her information, the hit-and-run can result in serious criminal charges – most often: failure to stop and give information. Depending on the level of damage caused and the seriousness of the injuries incurred by those involved, a driver who causes an accident and then flees the scene can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony.

Failure Stop Give Information AttorneyIn Houston, it is a criminal offense to flee the scene of an accident, even when a person has a compelling reason for doing so. The compelling reason can be used as a defense to the failure to stop and give information and the failure to stop and render aid charges that usually result from this type of behavior.

For example, a driver who is afraid to stop after causing an accident because he believes that the other driver is likely to cause him physical harm may still be arrested for failing to stop, but could claim the fear for his own safety as a defense. This is especially true if the driver called the police after getting to a safe location after the accident.

When the accident results in property damage alone, drivers are allowed to move their cars to an accident investigation site if the cars can be driven to the sites safely. Similarly, if there is only damage to the vehicles, the driver does not necessarily have to stop at the site of the accident, and can return to the scene as soon as it is possible to do so. This may happen when stopping the car at the scene of the accident would result in blocking traffic and creating the danger of additional accidents.

Providing Information and Failure to Stop

The kind of information a driver is required to give after an accident includes name and address, the car’s registration number, and insurance information. This information should be provided to anyone involved in or injured in the accident. The driver who caused the accident may also be required to show his or her driver’s license to law enforcement officers.

If a person is seriously injured in an accident, the driver who caused the accident has an additional duty to either give assistance, or ensure that medical assistance is provided by calling 911.

When the accident results in death or the other driver or passengers sustain serious injuries, the penalties for failing to stop and give information increase, and the fleeing driver can be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Depending on how the accident occurred, the driver may also face additional criminal charges that could lead to the possibility of more prison time.

In addition to the criminal charges that a driver may face, there may also be civil penalties if the other person injured in the accident decides to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.

Get Help with Failure to Stop Charges

If you were involved in a car accident and left the scene of the accident, or you have been arrested for failing to stop after a car accident to give your information, you need a Houston criminal defense lawyer with experience handling failure to stop cases. Contact the Haggard Law Firm today at (832) 328-0600 or use the short email form for a free confidential consultation.

Failure to Stop and Give Information

Family Assault Charges in Houston

Family Assault (or “domestic violence”) [Penal Code Title 5. Chapter 22] is a serious criminal offense in Houston and unfortunately all to common. In this post we will help you understand some of the legal circumstances regarding family assault as well as some options available for people and their loved ones who are involved with domestic violence charges.

What is Family Assault

In most cases a family assault charge begins with either a recipient of abuse or someone close / a neighbor, etc. calling the authorities. “Assault” need not be direct physical aggression – threats are considered assault. In many cases the call to authorities is not intended to arrest the aggressor – a person just wants the authorities to deescalate the situation. However, in almost all cases when authorities are called on domestic violence, someone goes to jail irrespective of anyone’s intentions.

It’s important to know that one need to be married or even dating in order to be charged with family violence. The following relationships can qualify for an assault on family member charge:

  • Married – currently or previously
  • Living together – currently or previously
  • Dating – currently or previously
  • Engaged – currently or previously
  • Related by blood, marriage, or adoption
  • Having a child [or gaurandianship] together

As one can see, it’s possible to be charged with assault on family member without even knowing that was a possibility.

Often it is the case that even after one of the parties is arresting for family assault, the other party will explictly appeal to not press charges. At this time they discover that their decision to press charges or not is irrelevant. There is actually a special section of the District Attorney’s office devoted soley to prosecuting family violence cases and Harris County pursues this type of charge much more harsly than other types of assault cases. These prosecutors are trained to aggressively pursue family violence cases without the complainants cooperation. Even a first time family assault charge (with no priors) is considered a class A misdemeanor that can carry up to a year in jail, large fines, and loss of rights such as to own firearms. If there is a past conviction the charge can be enhanced to a third degree felony carrying up to 10 years in the penetentiary.

Dealing with Family Assault Charges

At The Haggard Law Firm we know that there are many scenarios in which people have arguments — sometimes these are fairly mundane and are blown out of proportion, e.g. a neighbor perceives an argument to be more serious than it actually is. However, there are also cases in which arguments are indicative of deeper and more serious problems and often a domestic violence charge indicates a family in crisis. As caring attorneys that fight as hard as possible for our clients, we do not think jail is the answer – but advocating for a holistic solution that can improve the lives and situations of those going through difficult times. We fight to get help for those in need and staunchly defend against overbearing aggressive prosecution and work towards creative solutions for families. If you or a loved one has been charged with family assault, contact Houston criminal defense attorney Carl Haggard by email or call (832) 328-0600 for a free confidential consultation. Irrespective of whether one wants to press charges in a domestic violence case, one can expect an aggressive prosecution and harsh consequences. Caring and experienced legal counsel can reason with the court and argue for helping instead of further pain and suffering. We have a verified winning track record of defending against family assault charges in Houston and are ready to fight for you. Texas offers resources to those who may be experiencing violence at home. Click on the below links to learn more.

Texas Family Violence Legal Information

Family Violence Help Resources / Temporary Shelters, and more.

Family Assault Attorney Harris County

Blood Draw Test and Warrants for DWI

Of all the types of search warrants, the ones for blood are undeniably the most intrusive.

Refusal of Consent for Blood Test

If you did not clearly consent to your blood draw let us know, as we may be able to get those results suppressed for that very reason. Only if you did not consent to the blood draw does the issue of a then warrant come into play.

If you are under arrest and refuse consent to the blood draw then police either have to obtain a warrant or be able to show exigent circumstances existed to draw your blood without a warrant. Fortunately, the Courts have ruled that the fact that the alcohol in your system is steadily metabolizing away does not count as an “exigent circumstance”.

Fighting the warrant – Even if police do get a warrant the DA’s still have to prove probable cause for it or we may be able to get the results suppressed. Also we look at the warrant itself to make sure it conforms to all the required elements. If the stated reasons for the stop and the probable cause for the warrant are false or exaggerated we can attack the warrant.

Physical force – We have had clients tell us they refused a blood draw and the police used physical force to get them to submit to a blood draw. If this force is excessive to the point of an assault or bordering on an assault we can use this to keep a client’s blood draw from being admissible in court.

Maintaining the integrity of the blood draw warrant – One issue defense attorneys deal with is that cops are sworn to the warrant by other cops rather than by a judge or licensed sworn Assistant DA. The problem with this is that if a cop administrates the oath it is practically impossible for defense counsel to decipher the chicken scratch to figure out his name and agency since many times DWI arrests are multi-jurisdictional.

Exigent Circumstances for Drawing Blood Without a Warrant or Consent

The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. To draw blood without a warrant and without the consent of the arrested person requires an exigency, or emergency, such as a serious accident causing severe injuries to any party, or unless you have prior DWI convictions. What constitutes “exigent circumstances” has never been defined but is determined by the totality of the facts. But you can be sure that these will always be construed by the State in favor of “exigent circumstances existed” wherever blood was drawn without a warrant.

The good news is – the burden is on the State to prove up the exigency in a warrantless, no consent blood draw. Typically the cops will say that “the exigency” was that getting a warrant would have taken too long. But there are so many easy ways to get a warrant that we can easily overcome this bogus exigency – in Harris and surrounding counties there are always several DA’s, judges and magistrates on duty, there are many forms available, and the officer can swear to the Probable Cause Affidavit over the phone then fax it to the magistrate.

When the DAs argue it was not practical for the police to get a warrant, we can also argue from case law to prove how easily it can be done. Governing case law states that if the warrant could have been reasonably gotten between the time of the arrest and the time of the blood draw – and this is practically always the case, given prevailing conditions in Harris and surrounding counties – then no exigent circumstance exists. When we hold their feet to the fire, prosecutors have a hard time arguing that they could not obtain a warrant in a reasonable amount of time.

When the DA’s try to get us to back down from using emerging DWI case law we stand firm and continue to argue our points. We make sure the State understands that we take “innocent until proven guilty” seriously and that they will have to work hard to prove up guilt.

If you or a loved one has been charged with DWI in Houston, Harris County, or surrounding areas contact criminal defense attorney Carl Haggard of The Haggard Law Firm for a free confidential consulation about your case. Even if you took the blood test we can fight for you. Carl has over 30 years of experience defending people in Houston against DWI charges and has a winning track record.

DWI Lawyer Houston