White collar crime – Criminal charges come in all shapes, sizes, and categories with many differences and nuances between them. The term white collar crime is thrown around in the media and on television with very little explanation and very little specifics. If there is white collar crime, is there blue-collar crime? What do these terms mean, and what constitutes a white collar crime?
In this blog we will discuss white collar crime, the consequences of it, and some of its unique characteristics. Like all our blogs, this is intended for general informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel a criminal defense attorney.
What is white collar crime?
Generally speaking, white collar crime refers to non-violent, non-drug crimes that are primarily financially motivated. These crimes would include a large variety of theft and/or fraud crimes such as, but not limited to:
- Bank fraud
- Wire fraud
- Tax fraud
- Insurance fraud
- Insider trading
- Money laundering
White collar crimes are some of the few crimes that don’t necessarily have to be committed by people since companies and other organizations themselves can also be charged.
Characteristics of white collar crimes
Often, white collar crimes end up being charged as federal crimes rather than state crimes and therefore follow federal sentencing guidelines. Other interesting characteristics of federal white collar crimes include but are not limited to the following:
- Often when someone is going to be charged with a white collar crime, they get some sort of notice ahead of time.
- Typically, this comes in the form of a target letter by a federal prosecutor that states that you are the target of an investigation. It is important to note that potential witness also sometimes get letters before any formal charges are filed.
- This is in stark contrast to most non-white collar crimes. It is also advantageous to the defendant in that it gives them time to hire a lawyer early on in the process.
- White collar crimes tend to be much more fact specific and the allegations are much more nuanced. The alleged and proven facts tend to be much be much more detailed than other crimes. Some of the reasons for this are:
- White collar crimes are very document-heavy; bank statements, financial records, and tax documents all provide important information that may or may not lead to charges.
- The dollar amount in question goes a long way regarding sentencing.
- Specific intent is extremely important, and the facts of the case tend to govern that.
White collar criminal defense requires detailed strategy, preparation, and execution. This is not something that we would recommend doing on one’s own. If you have been charged with a crime and are seeking representation, contact us.