The term “white collar crime” has become a ubiquitous term in the criminal prosecution and defense world, but it’s not always entirely clear what offenses it refers to. Rather than referring to a particular federal or state criminal statute, this term refers to a general subset of criminal cases that tend to have broadly overlapping issues, defense strategies, types of evidence and so on. Generally speaking, “white collar crime” refers to non-violent financial crimes, particularly those with a relatively high level of complexity with respect to the manner and method of theft or misappropriation. Also implied in the definition of “white collar crime” is the background and financial circumstances of the accused individual, which is generally more wealthy and affluent than the average criminal defendant, although this is certainly not always the case. White collar defendants are often financial planners, managers and executives of mutual funds or other investment entities, business managers, corporate executives or small business owners.
Law enforcement investigations tend to be much more lengthy and involved in these kinds of cases, and often result in much more documentary evidence than the average case, which leads to these kinds of cases sometimes being referred to as “paper cases,” as opposed to cases that are more focused on witnesses, surveillance video and the like. Given the complexity of these investigations, and the often far-reaching effects of these kinds of financial crimes, many different state and federal agencies can be involved in the case, including the FBI, the Department of Justice, the SEC, the National Association of Securities Dealers, the New York Attorney General’s Office, and/or the local District Attorney’s Office such as the Manhattan DA or Queens DA.
Some of the typical types of criminal cases that would generally fall into the category of “white collar” crimes, depending on the facts and circumstances, are SEC violations, securities fraud, insider trading, insurance fraud, business fraud, real estate fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, Ponzi schemes, wire fraud, mail fraud, RICO, and bribery.
All of the above-referenced law enforcement entities have vast resources and expert investigators, which makes it all the more imperative for a person accused with this kind of crime to retain experienced legal counsel and representation to help protect their rights and challenge the evidence presented by the government.