White collar crime can take place at all levels of society. From counterfeiting, to blackmail, to embezzlement – it can be prosecuted on both the state and federal levels.
White collar crime is a general term referring to non-violent crimes that are financially motivated. The term “white collar crime" comes from the idea that they were typically committed by business executives who wear a white shirt and tie, hence the term. However, it is a misnomer because people from all types of backgrounds can commit this type of crime.
It is not required to be a business executive or someone with a college degree to bribe somebody, or to blackmail an individual. The same goes for tax evasion, counterfeiting, forgery and identity theft. Still, those offenses are often in the same category.
The one element that all white collar crimes have in common is that they are usually involved in some type of fraudulent scam or activity. Although anybody can commit this crime, many times they are committed by professionals who have direct access to the resources necessary to further such crimes. They can use their special occupational skills, access and opportunities to defraud governments, businesses and individuals.
Due to the fact that white collar crimes are financially-related they are not necessarily connected to narcotics, crimes against personal property, organized crime, immigration, civil rights or vice crimes.
In the United States, criminal law is primarily enforced at the state level, however, white collar crimes can be prosecuted at either the state or federal level, or both. Many of these crimes cross state lines, therefore many of them are prosecuted in federal court.
White collar crimes are taken very seriously in this country; they are responsible for huge financial losses to federal, state, and local governments, to corporations, small businesses and to individuals. Many of them are investigated by large government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities Exchange commission. It is not uncommon for a person to pay thousands of dollars in fines, to pay victim restitution, and to replace the money they stole.
This is all in addition to incarceration in a state or federal penitentiary. If you are under investigation for a white collar crime, or if you have already been arrested, you should contact a criminal defense attorney right away. You want to make sure that you are doing everything possible to protect your legal rights – hiring a lawyer will be your first line of defense! Do not wait to get the help you need because time is crucial in these cases.