White Collar Crime: What Does It Mean?

White Collar Crime: What Does It Mean?

by Mar 12, 2019

White collar crime has been in the news a lot recently. People like Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort have been convicted of more than a dozen types of white collar crimes over the last several months, while just today a huge scandal involving college admissions and famous actresses blew up on every front page in America.

While white collar crime has been around for a very long time – the term was coined in 1939, according to the FBI – the seemingly endless procession of indictments against current and former presidential administration officials has shown a particularly harsh light on these types of offenses over the last few years.

What Is White Collar Crime?

The term white collar crime refers to certain kinds of fraud and financial crimes usually committed by business and government professionals. These types of crimes are typically nonviolent, and generally involve some form of deception for monetary gain.

Some of the more common types of white collar crime include:

  • Insurance fraud
  • Securities fraud
  • Tax evasion
  • Embezzlement
  • Money laundering
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Public corruption

Each of these types of crimes can be very complex, but the purpose is almost always the same: monetary gain via illegal means. It is common for white collar crimes to involve hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions of dollars in illegally gained funds.

Charges can be brought at both the state and federal level, depending on the specific nature of the crime and the circumstances.

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White Collar Crime Penalties

White collar crimes are almost always charged as felonies, which means they carry harsher penalties than misdemeanors.

While there are federal sentencing guidelines that recommend certain punishments for various types of crimes, it is ultimately up to a judge to decide what the final punishment will be. For example, federal guidelines in Paul Manafort’s case called for a sentence of between nineteen and twenty-five years in prison. But the judge only sentenced him to forty-seven months.

White Collar Crime Defense

One of the most unfortunate aspects of white collar crime is that the perpetrators often involve innocent people in their schemes without their knowledge.

Signing forms, delivering documents, making payments, and many other common day-to-day functions in both business and government may make otherwise innocent people part of an illegal scam run by higher-ups.

If you’ve been charged with offenses relating to some form of white collar crime, it’s important to speak with an attorney as quickly as possible. Please contact our offices today for a free consultation.


At Quinnan Law, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 540-2356.

We provide representation in California State and Federal Courts. We accept most major credit cards for your convenience.

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