Criminal Law

White Collar Crimes

Most people associate crimes with obviously disreputable individuals, or those with a seedy past. But there are quite a large number of nonviolent crimes perpetrated by seemingly respectable people in responsible situations or high social positions for financial gain. The opportunity to commit these types of crime is often dependent on the position held by the perpetrator in business institutions or society, which is why it is referred to as white collar crime.

The term “white collar crime” was first used by sociologist Edwin Sutherland when he gave a speech to the American Sociological Society in 1939. It referred to crimes committed by the “unusual” suspects and these are usually difficult to prosecute because of sophisticated efforts of concealment.

According to an article by Karen Alexander, Attorney at Law, the actual penalties for a white collar crime conviction are typically less severe than that for nonviolent crimes, but that is not really the point. Because white collar crimes are committed by those in a position of trust, even a mere accusation of fraud, embezzlement, industrial espionage, antitrust violation, and the like is enough to ruin a person’s reputation and career. It is not enough that a dismissal is secured due to lack of evidence or an acquittal because of reasonable doubt. There needs to be no doubt in the minds of the relevant people and institutions that the accused could ever have been involved.

This can be tough to pull off. Once people have the seed of doubt planted in their minds, it can be very difficult to take it out since people are inclined to believe the worst. It would need aggressive legal representation to avoid having the charges being formally filed in the first place, and to do effective damage control if the charges push through to a trial. If you are ever charged of a white collar crime and your reputation is at stake, say nothing and consult with an experienced white collar crime lawyer at the first opportunity.

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