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A closer look at white-collar crime and fraud

The term white-collar crime is generally used to refer to nonviolent crime that are most often committed in commerce situations for financial gain. According to the FBI, white-collar crime costs the U.S. more than $300 billion annually. White-collar crime is a category of crime that includes various forms of fraud, including financial fraud and securities fraud; embezzlement; tax evasion; and a variety of other financial crimes.

Fraud occurs when a party deliberately deceives another party with the intent to cause damage, which is often financial damage, to the other party. Penalties for white-collar crimes such as fraud often include fines; forfeitures of property improperly obtained; restitution to victims; home detention; supervised release; and imprisonment, among other possible penalties. The penalties for white-collar crimes and fraud crimes are unquestionably serious.

As is true of any crime, including white-collar crimes and fraud crimes, individuals accused of crimes and facing criminal charges have the right to defend against the allegations against them. Alleged evidence against the accused party can be challenged in a number of ways based on the facts and circumstances of the situation the accused party is facing. Procedural challenges, witness-testimony challenges or other types of challenges to alleged evidence may all be possible. Other defenses to fraud charges, such as an entrapment defense may, at times, be possible.

There are both federal and state laws prohibiting and defining crimes commonly referred to as white-collar crimes which includes different types of fraud. Under the Commerce Clause, the federal government can prosecute white-collar and fraud crimes. Because of the resources against the accused party, it is important to promptly develop a strong defense strategy when facing fraud accusations and charges.

Source: Cornel University School of Law Legal Information Institute, "White-Collar Crime," accessed on Sept. 3, 2014

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Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

Former Federal Prosecutors

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