Most people associate crime with acts of violence, but there are actually many types of criminal behavior that happen without physically threatening anyone. Though these types of crimes might seem victimless, the reality is that they are very serious. Since white collar crime can lead to major fines and jail time, it is important to understand what it is and how penalties for it work.
White collar crime is a little unusual because it does not have a strict legal definition. Unlike crimes like burglary or murder, white collar crime is not a specific type of criminal action. Instead, it is a broad category of criminal activity. Any sort of crime that is non-violent and focused on financial gain may count as a white collar crime.
Typically, white collar crime is only a crime that happens in some sort of commercial situation. Nonviolent crimes, like using an unlocked door to steal a person’s television, do not count as white collar crime. Instead, white collar crimes involve places of business and financial transactions. It most often occurs in offices, businesses, and corporations. This type of crime is mostly associated with activities like embezzlement and fraud. It often happens in industries like banking, investing, stock trading, and real estate.
Since white collar crime is such a broad category, it can be tricky to understand what counts as white collar crime. Taking a look at some examples can help you figure out how white collar criminal charges work.
The most common example of white collar crime is corporate fraud. Corporate fraud happens whenever a company uses false information to deceive their investors or auditors. This can encompass a variety of activities, such as misleading investors, embezzling money, insider trading, using corporate property for personal use, or misrepresenting profit.
Money laundering is another common type of white collar crime. This is a process where criminals convert their illegally-gotten funds into legitimate money. For example, a criminal may write false pay stubs and claim that the profits of a robbery were actually wages they got at work. Money laundering involves a variety of tax evasion, financial misrepresentation, and other issues.
This is another type of fraud that involves a lot of white collar crimes. Instead of being corporations misleading others, securities fraud involves a group of individuals misleading people. Things like Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes are common examples of securities fraud. Securities fraud can also occur when a person is manipulating the stock market, running a fake lottery, or selling misrepresented items.
Due to the name of the crime, many people get the impression that white collar crime is not as serious. In fact, the crime first got its name from the fact that it was committed by supposedly respectable, upper-class, white collar individuals. However, this type of crime causes major issues. Each year, roughly $426 billion is lost due to white collar crime.
Therefore, the government takes these crimes very seriously. Most types of white collar crime are high level crimes that result in felony charges. For example, corporate fraud can result in far more penalties than simple assault. The consequences for white collar crime tend to vary depending on the amount of money involved and the nature of the crime, but they are usually quite severe.
Since white collar crime is typically not violent, punishment often focuses on fines. A person convicted of white collar crime might have to pay punitive fines to the government, give back funds they stole, and potentially provide compensation for other ways their acts damaged someone. This can result in massive payments that cause the perpetrator to lose their home or declare bankruptcy.
White collar crimes also lead to actual jail time. For misdemeanors, a person might face a few months in prison. However, in serious felonies, white collar crime can lead to imprisonment for up to 30 years. The government tends to be especially strict if another person was significantly harmed during the crime. They may look at how much money was lost, whether it was taken from a corporation or an individual, and how much money the victim had left. White collar crime that causes a person to become destitute may result in significant penalties.
Ultimately, being convicted of white collar crime may result in major fines or lengthy jail time. Therefore, it is important to take them very seriously. If you or a loved one is charged with white collar crime, you need a talented criminal defense attorney on your side. At Spodek Law Group, we provide high quality, dedicated defense. Our team can assist you with navigating all the legal complexities of white collar crime charges. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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