4 Things You Didn’t Know About White Collar Crimes

What do Enron, Bernie Madoff, Charles Ponzi, Tyco International, Jack Abramoff, and WorldCom have in common?

Although it might sound like the beginning of a bad joke, the men and companies on this list have all been involved in white collar criminal activity and are notorious for their crimes. They might seem like heroes to some. Stealing money from others and keeping it for themselves. But they aren’t heroes. They’re criminals. I make this point not to pass further judgment upon them, but because if you find yourself charged or under investigation for this type of crime, it is vital that you take it very seriously.

White collar crimes have been glamorized in movies, TV shows, and in popular culture, but these crimes are judged harshly at both the state and federal level, carrying severe penalties that include lengthy jail sentences and expensive fines. That’s why, if you ever find out you are under investigation or charged with a white collar crime, you should immediately contact a skilled Colorado white collar crime lawyer who will protect your rights and help you fight your charges.

Let’s take a look at four facts about these infamous crimes.

1. White collar criminals are usually white men in their forties. Although anyone is capable of committing a white collar crime, there is a general profile for white collar offenders. Men are more than twice as likely to commit fraud and other white collar crimes than women. And when men do commit these crimes, the loss suffered is also more than two times as much as the loss suffered from a female perpetrator.

These offenders are also frequently white, college graduates, and in their forties. People who work in the accounting department are the most likely offenders, with upper management and executives coming in second.

The greater the loss, the greater the punishment2. The greater the loss, the greater the punishment. Most white collar crimes are felonies, but depending on the value of the loss in question, you could possibly be charged with a misdemeanor based on Colorado law. Let’s take a look at embezzlement charges.

If you are charged with embezzlement and the amount of the stolen property is valued under $1,000, you will be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, or a Class 2 misdemeanor if the amount is under $500. Fines are up to $1,000 and you could spend between 3 and 18 months in jail.

Anything over $1,000 is a felony, and depending on the exact amount, you could be charged with a Class 3, 4, or 5 felony. If you stole over $20,000, you will be charged with a Class 3 felony, which is punishable by up to $750,000 in fines and between 4 and 12 years in jail.

Federal embezzlement works the same way. Under federal law, if an embezzler steals more than $1,000, he or she can be punished with fines up to $250,000 and up to 10 years in jail. Under $1,000? Up to one year in jail and $100,000 in fines.

So it’s true, the greater the loss, the greater the punishment.

3. White collar crimes aren’t victimless crimes. Since most white collar crimes aren’t seen as violent, people often claim that white collar crimes really don’t have “victims” per se. That’s not entirely true though. The American economy is a victim to white collar crimes.

White collar crimes cost the American people over $200 billion every year. And this number is from 4 years ago. So today’s number is estimated to be between $400 and $600 billion. Violent crimes – so-called “blue collar crimes” – are expensive, but they only cost $14 billion a year. So white collar crimes are at least 14 times more expensive than violent crimes.

Despite their massive numbers though, white collar crimes aren’t necessarily the focus of news stories. People would rather hear about dramatic drug busts or local robberies than tax evasion or health care fraud. Even though tax evasion and health care fraud actually affect the public more.

Denver WHite Collar Crime Attorney4. The term “white collar” came from actual white collars. Many people often wonder why crimes like embezzlement, fraud, bribery, blackmail, extortion, and other similar crimes are called “white collar crimes.” Although the term was first documented in 1910, it became more popular in the wake of World War II.

Office workers could wear white-collared shirts because they wouldn’t have many opportunities to make them dirty. And, if their shirt did get dirty, they could afford to take them to the cleaners.

In 1939, the phrase “white collar crime” was used in a speech given to the American Sociological Society by Edwin Sutherland. Sutherland defined a “white collar crime” as “crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.”

Being “respectable,” however, won’t necessarily keep you out of jail. You need the strongest defense possible, and you need to start crafting it immediately.


About the Author:

Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.