Criminal Law

White-Collar Crime

White-collar crimes are typically nonviolent crimes committed in a commercial context by a professional or manager for financial gain. The most common white-collar crimes include embezzlement, fraud, bribery, insider trading, tax evasion, and money laundering.

Businesspeople and government officials who commit nonviolent crimes within a business setting to make money are guilty of white-collar crime. These crimes are often difficult to prosecute because the wrongdoers can use sophisticated methods to hide their illegal activities. Whistleblowers, people who disclose wrongdoing of a person or organization, have a fundamental role in identifying white-collar crime because they report activity that is usually not identifiable outside the organization. Both state and federal statutes identify activities that are white-collar crimes. At the federal level, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Environmental Protection Agency, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Internal Revenue Service enforce federal white-collar crime law. The states have their own agencies to enforce their statutes on white-collar crime.

The most common white-collar crimes include embezzlement, fraud, bribery, insider trading, tax evasion, and money laundering. Embezzlement is the fraudulent conversion of property that is in the perpetrator's possession. An example of embezzlement is when a person has access to someone else's money for the purpose of monitoring it but then misappropriates the money for their own personal gain. Conversion is the intentional and permanent removal of property from the rightful owner's possession and control. Fraud is when a person deliberately deceives another for the purpose of obtaining money or property and that person is injured by the deception. Types of fraud include securities fraud, insurance fraud, Ponzi schemes, and business fraud.

Insider trading is the illegal use of material, nonpublic information to trade on the stock exchange for one's own benefit. Bribery is the offering, giving, soliciting, or receiving of money or property to influence a person's conduct. Tax evasion is the illegal nonpayment or underpayment of tax, often from omitting or modifying financial information.

Money laundering is when money from criminal activity is made to look as if it were gained legitimately. Besides the prosecution of the individual wrongdoer for these white-collar crimes, the government can also sanction corporations for the acts of their employees. Other penalties for individual defendants who commit white-collar crime include fines, paying prosecution costs, home detention, forfeiture, restitution, supervised release, and incarceration.