When you think of a criminal offender, you typically think of someone who commits rape, assault burglary, robbery, arson or vandalism. These types of crimes are the most common and they are usually violent in nature. These street crimes are committed by what we call blue-collar criminals.
There is however, an entirely different type of criminal that typically goes unnoticed, the white-collar criminal. These offenders are people are high social status, esteem and respect and they commit crimes with completely different motives. They are financially motivated and are more likely to commit acts of fraud for illegal personal gain. White collar criminals are highly intelligent, educated and affluent individuals who decide to take advantage of their position at some point during their occupation.
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This area of criminology was first established and clearly defined by Mr. Edwin Sutherland. He first coined the term, "White Collar Crime" back in 1939 as he was trying to distinguish between white-collar criminals with social status and the blue-collar street criminals who fill up the majority of our jails and prisons.
He believed that society had a tendency of turning a blind eye to white-collar crimes and that the affluent business criminals were less likely to be arrested for their crimes. This is primarily because they are highly-esteemed individuals in society and people believe that the non-violent crimes aren't as harmful on the victims. Therefore, it could be concluded that white-collar and blue-collar criminals can be differentiated by their social class, socioeconomic status and the type of offense that they commit.
White-collar opportunists commit financially motivated crimes typically because their jobs involve having access to hefty sums of money. Sooner or later they decide to take advantage of their predisposition, and white collar criminal action is born. White collar crimes are never violent in nature; however, defendants should not be fooled into believing that they are treated with anymore leniency. Some common examples of white collar offenses include:
Conspiracy: In order for a crime of conspiracy to be committed, both conditions of California Penal Code 182 must be unequivocally proven. These conditions are as follows: 1) the mutual agreement between two or more people to commit a crime, and 2) the overt action of one person from the agreement which extends beyond the terms of the original agreement that was made.
Embezzlement: Embezzlement is both a white collar offense and a theft offense because it involves the unlawful taking of something by the very person who has been entrusted to protect it. Common forms of embezzlement include the falsification of records, the creation of false vendor accounts, and other Ponzi-like financial schemes.
Extortion: Extortion is also referred to as blackmail because its action involves obtaining the personal property of another through use of fear or force. Threats that can be used as blackmail in an act of extortion include the threat of injury, the threat of defamation, the threat of criminal accusation, and the threat to reveal secret / personal information about a targeted individual.
Fraud: Benefits that are obtained through unfair means, as well as benefits that are undeservedly received, are often reason to suspect fraudulent behavior. Crimes of fraud are defined as those which use deceit to unlawfully obtain something that would not otherwise be given to you, and they almost always involve causing personal harm or loss to another person.
Additional examples of fraud include cybercrimes, insider trading, copyright infringement, identity theft, money laundering, Ponzi schemes, forgery, and bribery. Variations of fraud can also be categorized as a white collar offense, adding to this list of criminal activity additional behaviors such as bankruptcy fraud, credit card fraud, health care fraud, insurance fraud, and mortgage fraud.
The FBI sums up White-collar crimes as being "…the full range of frauds committed by business and government officials." These crimes and schemes are becoming more and more sophisticated as technology advances, which makes these criminal that much harder to catch. They have really been cracking down on white-collar offenders and enhancing the penalties which include a combination of monetary fines, incarceration, restitution to the victim, community service and probation.
Since these crimes involve fraud and theft, offenders will be subject to the penalties of petty or grand theft under California Penal Code Sections 486-490. You can also be charged with an "aggravated white collar crime," which is penalized under Code Section 186. With an "aggravated" charge, it usually means the defendant embezzled or defrauded $100,000 or more and could have five years added to their prison sentence and pay fines of up to $500,000.
If you or a loved one is being invested for a white-collar crime, you must take up aggressive legal protection to protect yourself from the tough prosecution. These crimes are punished to the fullest extent of the law and your attorney could be the only person standing between you and a prison sentence.
At the Law Office of Frances Prizzia, we offer compassionate, aggressive and dedicated criminal defense when you need it most. Our lead attorney, Frances Prizzia, is a former public defender who has a driving passion to produce results. She is also fluent in Tagalog. Together, we will do everything in our power to have your charges reduced or have you dismissed on a full acquittal of all charges.
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