What is White Collar Crime?

Man reading a book with the Scales of Justice on the table behind him

You’ve probably heard this term before: “white collar crime”. But do you know what it means? And why does that matter?

White collar crime is a descriptor of a category of crimes – these crimes are committed by businesses, business officials and government officials. These crimes are typically committed with the mindset that there is no victim, and in many cases, the mindset that it’s not a crime. If you’re a business or government professional, however, you should be aware of this class of crimes and avoid committing them. It may not be a valid defense that you didn’t realize it was a crime.

Here’s an example of how someone may commit a crime without realizing it. Imagine you’re in a business meeting and overhear colleagues talking about a merger or acquiring a new company. You think to yourself “Wow, that could really increase the value of our company, I should buy some additional stock before that happens.” You go home, talk to your wife and buy more stock. Seems innocent enough, maybe even a smart financial decision. Are you guilty of insider trading – a white collar crime that can have serious consequences?

Generally, white collar crime can be broken into the following buckets:

  • Corporate fraud: falsifying financial information, self-dealing by corporate insiders (including insider trading), late trading, falsifying of net asset values, etc.
  • Money laundering: concealing or disguising proceeds to make them appear to be from legitimate resources. These crimes are typically in conjunction with other crimes such as: health care fraud, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, etc.
  • Securities and Commodities fraud: ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, investment fraud, embezzlement, etc.  

There are many other crimes that could be considered white collar crimes. If you are working in any field that is relevant to these, make sure you understand the rules so you don’t accidentally commit one. If you have been charged with a business-related crime, you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. These crimes, though they may appear victimless, are taken seriously by the courts. An attorney can help you identify any available defenses and help mitigate the consequences to you and your family.

If you’re facing a criminal charge, call us today for your consultation.