If you find yourself facing federal prosecution for a white-collar crime, the specific charge likely has something to do with fraud, defined as the illegal taking of someone else’s property, usually some type of financial assets, and converting them to your own use or purposes.
Understanding what this type of crime is can help you avoid such a scenario.
White-collar crime definition
Edwin Sutherland, a prominent sociologist of the early 20th century, coined the term “white-collar crime” sometime during the 1930s. Per his definition, a white-collar crime is one “committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of their occupation.”
Keep in mind that corporate dress codes of that time invariably required a person of respectability to wear a two- or three-piece dark-colored business suit and a long-sleeved white shirt.
Even though dress codes have largely disappeared during the ensuing decades, the term “white collar” still applies to crimes committed by high-level corporate and government employees who use their positions of power and trust to take that which is not theirs.
Examples of federal white-collar crimes
Per the Federal Bureau of Investigation, fraud can take any number of forms. The most common include:
- Health care fraud
- Identity theft
- Money laundering
- Insider trading
- Mail fraud
Additional white-collar crimes include such things as intellectual property theft, misuse of public funds, Ponzi schemes and racketeering.
Remember, the prosecutor does not have to prove that you personally gained in order to convict you of a white-collar crime. If your family, friends or organization gained because of your fraudulent actions, this is often sufficient for conviction.