White collar crime charges carry stiff penalties and can change the life of the accused individual forever.
But that said, white collar crime is a very loose term covering a wide variety of financial crimes, each covered by different statutes and carrying different potential penalties.
Generally speaking, the term “white collar crime” refers to financially motivated, nonviolent or non-directly violent crime committed by individuals, businesses and government professionals. The most common examples include:
- Mail/Wire fraud: These are terms used to describe the use of a physical or electronic mail system to defraud another. Jurisdiction is claimed by the federal government if the illegal activity crosses interstate or international borders.
- Money laundering: Money laundering refers to the practice of concealing illegally obtained funds by using them in what might otherwise be considered legitimate business transactions.
- Investment fraud: Investment fraud can include Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes and other types of investment fraud. Market manipulation and broker embezzlement can also be included in this category.
- Embezzlement: Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted. Embezzlement might be prosecuted by state or federal law enforcement. For instance, a retail store employee who pockets money from the till might be accused of embezzlement and face charges by a local DA. A corporate executive who carries out an elaborate scheme to take company funds for their own gain could face similar charges or the matter could be prosecuted federally.
White collar crime charges usually have a fraud component. For example, prosecutors may allege that the accused used some type of misrepresentation or deceit for personal, monetary gain. These are significant accusations for anyone to find themselves facing.
The penalties for white collar criminal charges can be significant and the fallout in the personal and professional lives of the accused can be extensive. It is important to take any type of white collar criminal investigation or charge seriously and for accused individuals and entities to know how to protect themselves through important criminal defense options that may be available to them.