In criminal law, aggravated offenses typically involve the use of a weapon. For example, if a person decides to rob a convenience store using a handgun, prosecutors may charge him or her with aggravated burglary or aggravated assault. It is possible to have an aggravated white collar offense, though.

White collar crimes typically involve non-violent conduct, such as fraud or embezzlement. California law, however, assigns an aggravation label to white collar offenses under certain circumstances.

A pattern of related felonious conduct

When an individual commits a white collar crime, prosecutors are likely to charge him or her for the offense under the state’s criminal code. If the person has a record of related felonious conduct, though, a sentencing enhancement may apply. This enhancement makes the matter an aggravated white collar offense.

For a defendant to have a pattern of related felonious conduct, he or she must have at least two previous felony embezzlement or fraud convictions. The convictions must also have deprived someone else of at least $100,000. Additionally, the previous criminal offenses must have targeted at least two separate victims or a single victim more than once.

Punishment enhancements

California law assigns penalties for various types of white collar crime. If the crime is an aggravated offense, though, the charged person is vulnerable to harsher punishments.

For previous offenses that resulted in a loss of between $100,000 and $500,000, defendants face an additional prison term of one or two years. If the loss was more than $500,000, an extra two- to five-year prison sentence is possible.

Consecutive sentences

Judges usually tack additional prison sentences onto the sentence for the latest white collar offense. Convicted individuals typically must serve these additional sentences consecutively to the sentence for the underlying crime.

Defending against aggravated white collar criminal charges can be exceedingly difficult because of punishment enhancements and consecutive sentences. Therefore, when mounting an aggressive defense, it is important to understand both past criminal convictions and all possible criminal penalties.