White-collar crime refers to non-violent or non-directly violent offenses often financially motivated and committed by businesses, individuals, and government professionals. It involves gaining advantages and actions that can be concealed to avoid losing money or property. These crimes may not physically harm anyone but may impact individuals, trust issues may arise, cost thousands of dollars, and may also drain your savings. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) notes that while these crimes don’t involve violence, they can lead to financial deception and create various personal or business problems. 

White-collar crimes may also include violation of copyrights, trademarks, competition laws, or patent laws. Some people may also violate domain names or commit corporate crimes that come under white-collar crimes. In such situations, experienced white-collar crime lawyers may prove to be of great help to you. They can easily navigate complicated legal systems, fight for their rights, and may also develop a strategic defense that will help to reduce legal repercussions. 

Understanding The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

White-collar crimes may also include international businesses that are mentioned under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The FCPA does not allow American businesses to make payments to government officials to retain or obtain business and contracts in foreign countries. 

They also prohibit payments done by third parties such as joint-venture partnerships in which the payment is made to the third party to transfer that payment as a bribe to a foreign government official. FCPA also applies to money laundering and businesses that are mentioned in the U.S. Stock Exchange and businesses conducted within America. 

Types Of  White Collar Crimes

White-collar crimes encompass a range of nonviolent offenses committed by individuals, businesses, or government officials for financial gain. Some common types include:

  • Corporate Fraud:

Corporate fraud that happens on a large scale in government or corporate institutions may incur financial losses to the investors. It may also damage the U.S. economy. Therefore, these frauds involve partners who investigate comprising the FBI, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

  • Money Laundering

Money laundering refers to earning cash from illicit activities that may include drug trafficking and making it appear earning from any legal business. Criminals may try to filter money from crimes such as public corruption, human trafficking, and terrorism. 

Criminals begin committing such crimes when they try to enter into the financial system. Then, the process of layering takes place when they create an audit trail deliberately by a series of financial transactions. Then the integration happens in which the criminal’s financial proceeds are returned after laundering and they will appear to be legitimate sources. 

  • Falsification of financial information

Corporate fraud cases involve accounting schemes that are done to deceive auditors, investors, and analysts, about the financial condition of any business. This is done by manipulating share price, financial data, and other measurements that will inflate the financial performance of a business. 

Such crimes involve manipulation, abuse of trust for illicit gains, and financial deception.  If you have an involvement in any of such crimes, a white-collar crime lawyer may help to defend your case. 

  • Embezzlement

Embezzlement is considered to be one of the most common crimes in the corporate industry. Embezzlement refers to such actions in which a trusted individual who is handling property and monetary matters will illegally steal the funds by using their power. Example: When an employee illegally transfers the company’s funds without the knowledge of the company’s officials.

  • Ponzi scheme

The name of the Ponzi scheme originated from its perpetrator Charles Ponzi. This scheme is also known by the name pyramid scamming. The scammer tried to create some investment scheme that was lucrative and promised to return the money. This attracted new investors which helped the white-collar criminals as they received money and then they ran away. 

  • Intellectual Property Theft

Intellectual property theft is one of the white-collar crimes that involves robing companies or people of their inventions, ideas, and creative expressions which is called intellectual property. It may include proprietary products, music, movies, and software. 

What Percentage Of Crime Is White-Collar?

Zippa reports that these crimes make up 3% of federal prosecutions. Interestingly, there has been a significant reduction of 53.5% in these crimes since 2011. However, it’s worth noting that nearly 90% of such crimes go unnoticed. A notable example of a significant white-collar crime is Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi Scheme, considered one of the largest financial frauds in American history.

White-Collar Crime Prosecutions (2012-2022)

Fiscal Year Total federal prosecutions for white-collar crimes
2022 4,180
2021 4,727
2020 4,200
2019 5,702
2018 5,932
2017 5,825
2016 6,253
2015 6,935
2014 7,864
2013 8,373
2012 8,433

Distribution Of  White-Collar Crimes

White-collar crimes exhibit a diverse distribution across various types, each with unique characteristics and consequences. Fraud, embezzlement, insider trading, and identity theft are standard categories. 

The percentage distribution can vary based on economic landscape, technological advancements, and regulatory changes. While there is no fixed percentage for each type, understanding the prevalence of these crimes helps individuals, businesses, and law enforcement agencies address specific challenges associated with different categories of white-collar offenses.

What Are The Penalties For White-Collar Crimes?

Penalties for white-collar crimes can vary depending on the offense’s severity and the jurisdiction’s specific laws. Individuals convicted of white-collar crimes may face fines, restitution, probation, or imprisonment. Sometimes, sentences can be substantial, especially for financial fraud or corporate crimes. 

Moreover, individuals may be subject to asset forfeiture, where ill-gotten gains are seized. Penalties may also include court-ordered supervision, community service, or other forms of punishment. The legal consequences aim to deter such offenses and ensure accountability for those engaging in fraudulent or deceptive practices.

Was Prison Time Extended For White-Collar Crime? Talk To An Attorney

An experienced criminal lawyer can provide essential assistance when facing legal charges. They can assess your case, explain your rights, and guide you through the legal process. Furthermore, they can negotiate with prosecutors, represent you in court, and provide legal advice tailored to your situation.