Most people have heard to term “ white collar crime ” at some point, yet the precise definition remains elusive for most. The reason for this is that despite the fact that the term is frequently used by those involved in the legal system it is not actually a legal term. If you have been charged with a white collar crime, however, you are likely facing serious potential penalties if convicted and should seek the advice of an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In the meantime, a better understanding of what a white collar crime is may be helpful.
The term “white collar crime” was first used almost a century ago to describe “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.” The term stuck and is still used to describe similar crimes committed by educated professionals and/or those in the middle to upper classes of society. White collar crimes are not violent crimes. Instead, they are typically committed for financial gain. Some common examples of white collar crimes include:
- Insider trading
- Various types of fraud
- Antitrust crimes
- “Hacking” and other cyber-crimes
- Money laundering
- Intellectual property theft or piracy
- Securities and commodities crimes
- Identity theft
In today’s electronic age, many white collar crimes are committed electronically using computers and the internet. Enormous sums of money can be embezzled, for example, without the perpetrator ever leaving his or her office. Likewise, an entire identity can be stolen and then used without the perpetrator ever leaving home.
White collar crimes can be investigated by local law enforcement agencies or by federal law enforcement agencies. As such, you could be charged at the state level, the federal level, or both for a white collar crime. Although society tends to view white collar crimes as less serious, and therefore the offenders as less dangerous, the penalties if convicted of white collar crime can be harsh. At the federal level, for example, money laundering carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison without aggravating circumstances and a fine of up to the greater of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.
If you are under investigation for a white collar crime now is the time to consult with an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney. Consulting with an attorney does not imply your guilt. It may, however, dramatically decrease the possibility of a conviction should you actually be charged with a white collar crime down the road. Don’t wait to be formally charged. Contact an experienced white collar defense attorney now.