What are White-Collar Crimes?
When most people think of the word “crime,” something inherently violent (such as murder and assault) comes to mind. With the amount of crimes shows on T.V., that is understandable. However, not all crime is violent. Some crimes are more discreet and tougher to identify. White-collar crimes are not violent in nature, but they do leave lasting impacts on those affected.
White-collar crimes come in many forms. For many people, the scandal involving Enron is what they image white-collar crimes to be. However, these crimes can occur on a much smaller scale, as well. Something as simple as an employee writing themselves a company check for personal expenses is an example of a white-collar crime.
Often, these crimes are financially driven, often referred to as “economic crimes.” While no one is physically hurt (in most cases), the impacts these crimes leave can affect hundreds of people. Those who commit white-collar crimes do so with the intent of taking money or property from the rightful owner for their own personal gain.
Even with the case of Enron and popular movies like Wolf of Wall Street, there is still a lot about white-collar crimes that most people don’t understand. These cases are incredibly complex, involving various moving parts and large sums of money.
The Oklahoma criminal defense attorneys at AMA Law have more than 100 years of combined experience representing clients throughout Oklahoma in a wide range of white-collar crimes cases. With our knowledge and resources, our white-collar crime attorneys can successfully help you with your case. Give us a call to learn how we can help.
Defining White-Collar Crimes
As mentioned earlier, white-collar crimes are not violent crimes. Instead, these crimes often involve the theft of large sums of money. Those who commit these crimes are financially driven, taking money or property from others for their own personal gain. While these crimes are non-violent, that does not mean they are victimless. The impact of stealing such large sums of money or property causes countless people to suffer hardships.
Anyone from business executives to low-level employees can commit these crimes. Cases can involve upwards of millions of dollars or sums as small as a couple hundred at a time. In fact, the costliest white-collar crimes occur in small organizations with less than 100 employees.
Often, these crimes involve perpetrators who did not commit their first criminal act until their late 30s. These actions aren’t just one-time acts. A person commits the crime and gets away with it, which makes them think they continue to keep getting away with it.
White-collar crimes can come in many different shapes and forms, affecting people in different ways.
Types of White-Collar Crimes
No two white-collar crimes are the same. Regardless, the legal system considers these crimes federal crimes due to their direct effect on the national economy and an individual’s financial status.
With that said, you can break white-collar crimes into two distinct categories: fraud-related and theft-related. Some of the most common types of white-collar crimes include:
- Securities fraud: when someone makes an inaccurate statement about a company or values a stock inaccurately, causing others to make financial decisions based on these statements (such as insider trading)
- Bank fraud: any scheme that aims to defraud a financial institution (bank), using deceptive means to obtain financial wealth from a bank
- Credit card fraud: a form of identity theft that involves the theft of someone’s credit card information to use someone else’s funds for their own gain
- Mail fraud: using the U.S. mail to further criminal actions
- Forgery: making, altering, or possessing false writing to commit acts of fraud (such as signing someone else’s check)
- Tax fraud: intentionally avoiding paying mandatory government taxes
- Computer fraud: using a computer and the internet to access protected computers remotely or to intercept and steal sensitive information (such as passwords, credit card information, etc.)
- Embezzlement: occurs when a person entrusted to handle money or property uses their position to steal funds
- Counterfeiting: attempting to copy or imitate items without the appropriate authorization then passing the copy off as genuine
- Money laundering: filtering illegally-acquired money (“dirty” money) through a series of transactions to “clean” the funds to make them appear as if you obtained them legally
- Tax evasion: using deceit or hiding information to avoid paying mandatory government taxes intentionally
- Identity theft: someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal information for their economic gain
- Corruption: a breach of public trust to abuse a federal, state, or local official position of power along with their private-sector collaborators
These cases are incredibly complicated and often involve multiple parties and large amounts of money. It takes an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to help you through these white-collar crime cases.
Consequences and Punishments
Earlier, we mentioned that white-collar crimes are considered federal crimes due to their effect on the national economy and an individual’s financial status. As you can imagine, the legal system takes these cases very seriously. The consequences and punishments for these crimes range in severity, depending on the individual case.
Regardless, here are some of the most common punishments for white-collar crimes:
- House arrest/electronic monitoring
- Prison sentences
- Supervised release (a preliminary period of freedom for recently released prisoners)
- Forfeiture of assets (a defendant must give up a portion of their wealth or personal property)
- Restitution (a defendant must pay back the money that they took)
The penalties for white-collar crimes can include one or multiple punishments, depending on the case. To avoid the harshest punishments, you need a criminal defense attorney that understands the complexity of these cases and possesses the skills and resources to create an aggressive defense strategy to have the charges against you dropped or reduced.
White-collar crimes are serious offenses, affecting countless individuals. If you find yourself charged with these crimes, they could cost you thousands of dollars and even jail time. The Oklahoma criminal defense attorneys at AMA Law have the skills, resources, and experience needed to conduct a thorough investigation to help us craft a strong defense to have these charges dropped.
If you find yourself facing white-collar crime charges, do not wait. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at AMA Law today.