Common Examples of White Collar Crimes
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of David Cohen with Cohen Forman Barone, LLP.
“White collar crime” is a term used to refer primarily to forms of fraud and other criminal activity perpetrated by businesses, government, and professionals in any given industry. White collar crimes are typically non-violent and tend to stem from financially motivated corruption. A person accused of a white collar crime has the right to hire a defense attorney to argue on their behalf in court; a defense attorney may argue for a verdict of non-guilty or alternatively may be able to negotiate a lesser sentence depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s history.
Some of the most common examples of white collar crimes include:
- Blackmail: threatening to reveal someone’s private information for monetary gain
- Bribery: giving or receiving something of value to encourage a criminal act
- Embezzlement: stealing funds from an employer
- Extortion: using threat or force to get money
- Forgery: using a false copy, signature, document, etc. for personal gain
- Fraud: deception for the purpose of gain
- Identity Theft: using another person’s identity for personal gain
- Money laundering: illegally concealing the transfer of money
- Racketeering: a continuous criminal operation for monetary gain
- Tax evasion: underpaying or not paying taxes
Due to the serious financial damage that can occur with white collar crimes, the penalties can be steep.
White collar crime accusations are always serious, and should never be brushed off. The penalties resulting from a guilty conviction tend to be expensive, and may include high fines, home detention, cost of restitution, and imprisonment. However, to be convicted of a white collar crime, the prosecution must be able to prove that the defendant broke the law intentionally; however, the methods of proving this knowledge can vary widely, and even someone who had no willful intention to break the law could be found guilty. Even if a crime was not completed but a plan to commit the crime existed, the defendant may still be found guilty. While a defendant can certainly plead ignorance, claiming that they were not aware they were breaking the law, it usually takes a good lawyer to prove that ignorance is a fair defense against the charges.
If you or your business have been informed of an impending lawsuit, it’s important to seek counsel.
Regardless of the size of the business or experience of the professional, it’s not recommended to try to handle a case on your own; in fact, while any lawyer can practice law, it’s highly recommended to seek out a defense attorney with specific experience handling white collar criminal cases, even if the accusations are against a somewhat smaller company.
White collar cases can be extremely complicated, as can the laws that surround what a company or business professional is or is not allowed to do. It typically takes the industry knowledge and know-how of a white collar defense attorney to understand how these laws apply to their client’s actions, as well as what kind of penalties could potentially be negotiated depending on the situation.
To learn more about white collar crimes or to discuss your case, reach out to an experienced white collar criminal defense attorney in your area.