Criminal Usury Lawyers
Usury is a serious criminal offense that is considered to be a white collar crime. This crime describes the illegal act of a lender charging an extraordinarily high interest rate on a personal loan in an effort to bolster profits in a predatory manner. In some states, the usury laws pertain to the total return that the lender receives on a loan, such as from interest charges, late payment penalties and other loan fees. However, in other states, such as in New York, the laws only pertain to the interest charges on a loan. There may be a limit on the maximum interest rate that can be charged or on the total return that a lender can make on a loan during a specific period of time.
Usury is typically a criminal offense that is punishable as a felony. Punishments associated with a conviction could include everything from probation on the lighter end to several years of imprisonment on the heavier end. Keep in mind that usury is often affiliated with other white collar crimes, such as money laundering, fraud and more. A defendant will be tried for each charge and will receive a separate punishment for each charge that he or she is convicted of. When hiring a usury lawyer, it is important to ensure that the lawyer has experience with all related aspects of your case.
If the loan is determined to be usurious, there may be clauses in the loan paperwork that describe what could happen next. For example, the entire principal balance and all interest charges that have been paid into the loan could be refunded. In some cases, only the extra interest charges may be refunded or otherwise converted into principal debt reduction. In these situations and with other possible outcomes, the defendant could potentially lose a substantial amount of money. Fighting the charges that you may currently be facing may be a true necessity, and your criminal usury lawyer can assist you with the process of building and presenting a defense.
The good news for those who have been charged with criminal usury is that there may be many defense tactics and strategies that can be used to reduce the charges or even to return an innocent verdict. For example, one type of defense strategy is to claim a special relationship. There are many special relationships that could fall outside the realm of usury law, such as with a loan between long-standing friends, in a fiduciary situation, in a trust situation and more.
Article 9 in the Universal Commercial Code also describes terms that may negate the loan from being subject to specific usury laws. Waivers, standing, burden of proof and other factors may also be used by your criminal usury lawyer to draw into question the validity of a usury claim. There are many creative ways to structure these arguments. Because of the many defenses that can be used against a usury charge, hiring a lawyer who has considerable experience with this specific type of white collar crime may help you to obtain better results from the court case. In fact, some lawyers may be so skilled at punching holes into the prosecutor’s arguments that the case may be dropped before it reaches the courtroom.
Your usury attorney can also continue to represent you in the event that you are convicted of the charges. For example, you will benefit from representation during the punishment phase of the court case. This is a time when the judge will determine what your sentence or punishment will be. There may also be a legitimate reason to consider filing an appeal to the decision, and your attorney could continue to represent you throughout this process as well.
While many criminal defense lawyers specialize in white collar crimes, keep in mind that this is a general term that covers numerous crimes. Not every white collar crime defense lawyer has a substantial amount of experience with usury cases. Because of the many strategies available for building a defense against usury charges, you can see that hiring a lawyer with experience in this specific area of the law can be beneficial. During your consultation, inquire about related experience and outcomes of the cases that the lawyer has tried.