It’s a term you may hear about in the news, but most people know very little about “white collar crime.” Here are a few facts that may be helpful should you or someone you know be impacted by one of these crimes.
What is white-collar crime?
The phrase originated in the 1930s by a sociologist who used it to describe offenses committed by “persons of respectability.” Today, the term is used to describe illegal acts that use deception to secure financial gain. Some people define them as “paper” crimes that are committed in the workplace. In most cases, these are non-violent crimes.
Why are they called white-collar crimes?
Most of these crimes are committed by people and organizations in the business world (e.g., a bank loan officer, a company’s financial officers or others) who have access to large sums of money. The FBI estimates that white-collar crimes cost U.S. citizens about $300 billion annually.
What are examples of white-collar crimes?
The most common kinds of white-collar crime are fraud, embezzlement, securities fraud (like insider trading), tax evasion, money laundering, bribery, counterfeiting, credit-card fraud, insurance fraud, antitrust violations, identify theft and other cybercrimes.
Who prosecutes white-collar crimes?
Many of these offenses can be state or federal crimes. Since they often involve prolonged investigations that cross state and/or international boundaries, the federal government, in the form of the FBI, is often called upon to take the lead in investigating and prosecuting these crimes. Although individuals are most often charged, the federal government has authority to charge corporations, as well.
Are defendants in white-collar crimes treated differently than other crimes?
While the courts try to treat all defendants relatively equally, the penalties for those found guilty of white-collar crimes often include fines; home detention; paying the prosecution’s costs; restitution (reimbursing the victim’s monetary costs); forfeiture (forfeiting assets used in the crime, such as a car plus money used in the commission of the crime); etc.
What is the Responsible Corporate Officer (RCO) doctrine?
The RCO doctrine says prosecutors can presume that high-ranking corporate officers are aware of the corporation’s activities, including its crimes. That means a corporate officer can be charged with a crime at his/her company, regardless of whether he/she knew about the criminal activity.
Do I need a lawyer if I’m caught up in white-collar charges?
Defendants facing such serious charges should consider seeking advice from someone like a white-collar crime lawyer, who can help them assess all their options. Or a certified crime specialist like those at The Morales Law Firm could help answer your questions.