Overview of White Collar Crimes
By Jonathan Blecher on September 8, 2016
What exactly are white collar crimes and what sets them apart from the rest of criminal activities? The term “white collar crime” was coined in 1939, and it refers to nonviolent, financially motivated crimes, many of which are committed by government officials and white collar professionals, but not always.
Lying, cheating, and stealing – that’s what white collar crime is all about according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). White collar crimes may be nonviolent by nature, but that does not mean that they don’t take any victims. A sophisticated scheme can wipe out a family’s lifesavings, cost investors millions of dollars, or even taxpayers.
Due to the potential economic impact of white collar crimes, several government agencies, such as the FBI, the IRS, and the SEC are responsible for investigating and prosecuting white collar criminals, in collaboration with local law enforcement authorities.
Common white collar crimes, include:
- Bank fraud
- Identity theft
- Healthcare fraud
- Insurance fraud
- Bankruptcy fraud
- Money laundering
- Securities fraud
- Credit card abuse
- Mortgage fraud
In the corporate setting, many white collar crimes are committed by professionals who have the authority and access to commit sophisticated crimes.
Often, these complex crimes can be difficult to track because they involve a series of complicated transactions, which take insider knowledge to effectively conduct. In these scenarios, federal agencies are often alerted of criminal activity by whistleblowers, who can be very valuable when it comes to “tipping off” authorities.
Are all white collar crimes federal offenses?
No, they are not all federal offenses. However, many white collar crimes are criminalized under both state and federal statute. If an offense is only criminalized under state law, then it will be prosecuted in state court.
If an offense is criminalized under both state and federal law, it may be prosecuted in federal court, depending on the facts of the case and what the state and federal prosecutors decide. There are two distinct differences between state and federal crimes:
- Federal offenses generally involve heftier penalties than similar crimes that are prosecuted on the state level.
- State prisons are more dangerous than federal prisons because they house violent criminals, such as those convicted of rape and murder. In contrast, federal prisons are higher security, but house many nonviolent criminals who are in for financially-motivated crimes (e.g. fraud).
If you are the target of a pre-file investigation, or if you have already been arrested for a white collar crime, you could be facing state or federal charges. Due to the nature and severity of your situation, you NEED a Miami criminal defense attorney who is licensed to practice in the state and federal courts.
I urge you to contact me at Jonathan Blecher, P.A. to discuss your charges in a free case evaluation!