What Makes a Particular Crime "White Collar?"

When business or government officials lie, cheat or steal, this is known as white collar crime, a term synonymous with a wide range of frauds and scams that cost companies, individuals and investors billions of dollars every year.

In a nutshell, white collar crime refers to deceptive acts that are designed to produce some type of financial gain. White collar offenses are financial crimes and do not involve any violent or drug-related criminal behavior; in fact, many perpetrators of white collar crimes are typically involved in legal businesses and may even be well-respected members of the business community.

White collar crimes are prosecuted by federal authorities — the FBI, IRS, SEC, Secret Service, U.S. Customs, etc. — with substantial resources at their disposal to pursue suspects. As a result, the federal conviction rates for white collar crimes are high and sentences tend to be fairly lengthy when compared with those for nonfinancial crimes. In addition, most states empower state agencies to investigate and enforce white collar statutes at the state level.

Examples of white collar crime include securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, insider trading, tax fraud, money laundering, bank fraud, embezzlement, heath care fraud, insurance fraud, mortgage fraud, elder financial fraud, identity theft and more.

Individuals or companies suspected of committing a white collar crime usually become aware they are the target of a federal or state investigation well before any arrest is made. This provides subjects of white collar investigations with the opportunity to help mitigate any potential criminal charges by hiring an experienced white collar defense attorney early on in the investigative process.

A skilled white collar defense attorney can help ensure that individuals under investigation do not unknowingly waive any of their legal rights. He or she may also be able to engage prosecutors early in the process to hopefully resolve the case or lessen the charges through negotiation.

The Cogdell Law Firm is a boutique law firm focusing on large, complex business and criminal financial-related litigation, including white collar criminal defense, securities fraud, health care fraud investigation, criminal appeals and state criminal defense. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244 or dan@cogdell-law.com.