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We have all heard of white collar crime. However, few people would be able to recite the dictionary definition right off the top of their head. Fewer still could quote a legal definition.

All the same, everyone knows that white collar crime is different from street crime such as mugging or auto theft. But how many different kinds of white collar crime are there? Moreover, what should you do if you’re accused of a white collar crime?

What Is the Definition of White Collar Crime?

The Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law defines white collar crime as a variety of nonviolent crimes usually committed in commercial situations for financial gain. White collar crimes include defrauding government agencies, violating antitrust laws, money laundering, tax evasion, and telemarketing fraud.

What Are Some Common Types of These Crimes?

The most common type of white collar crime is corporate crime. Corporate crimes include things such as Ponzi schemes and insider trading. For instance, do you remember the investment fund run by Bernie Madoff? It was actually just a fund full of junk bonds.

The crime was serious in this case, as it affected thousands of people and involved billions of dollars in capital. Not inconsequentially, it resulted in several suicides, including Madoff’s own son.

Embezzlement is another frequent crime. This means that a person has stolen money from the company for which they work. Bankruptcy fraud, on the other hand, takes place when a person hides assets after they have filed for bankruptcy.

Extortion is another form of this kind of crime. Extortion takes place when one party threatens another and forces them to pay money. For example, an extortionist might blackmail someone into keeping a secret or ask for hush money to keep the secret of another criminal.

Well-Known White Collar Crimes

The case of Martha Stewart’s conviction for insider trading is a famous one. The woman best known for setting the perfect table found herself in prison after she sold all of her stock in the pharmaceutical company ImClone Systems.

Another example is Enron, which lied to its shareholders, claiming false profits. Many of their executives found themselves convicted or at least facing trial.


Penalties Can Be Severe

Depending on the nature of the offense, the penalty can be severe for white-collar offenses. Bernie Madoff is now in jail for the rest of his life. Martha Stewart went to jail for five months. Recently, actress Felicity Huffman was accused of bribing her child’s way into school. Will she receive a penalty? That has yet to be determined.

What to Do If You Are Accused of a White Collar Crime

If you are accused of this type of crime, be sure to find a good Fort Worth criminal defense attorney, such as the attorneys at Cole Paschall Law. You’ll need a good attorney such as these, someone who understands the laws regarding this type of crime.

A criminal defense lawyer will be well-versed in any changes in criminal law. They will work hard to make sure you get the fair trial you deserve. They can look at the evidence and advise you on what to do to get your life back on track.