White-Collar Crimes

Whether you are a business owner, senior employee or an entry-level employee, complying with white-collar crime law is important.  White-collar crimes refer to the broad set of non-violent crimes that occur in business settings.  These crimes are usually motivated by financial gain and generally fall under the umbrella of fraud and theft.  Because the penalties for white-collar crimes are so harsh – punishments can include expensive fines or even imprisonment – it is essential to understand the laws in business settings, both at the federal and state level.

Examples of White-Collar Crimes

Some common examples of white-collar crimes include:

  • Mail and Wire Fraud:  It is illegal to make material misstatements or omissions using U.S. mail or interstate wired communications (ex: the telephone or internet) that result in the loss of someone’s property, money or services.
  • Embezzlement: You may not steal or intentionally misappropriate property that someone has entrusted you with or given you control over.
  • Insider Trading: “Insider trading” occurs when one relies on significant, confidential information to trade a company’s stock or securities before the confidential information is made public.
  • Money Laundering: It is illegal to conceal the sources, proceeds or nature of your illegal activity.  Money laundering usually occurs when a person places illicit funds through a series of transactions to hide the money’s illegitimate origins.
  • Bribery: You are not allowed to ( or attempt to) give, offer, receive or solicit anything valuable in exchange for a special favor from someone in a position of authority, such as a person holding a political office.
  • Forgery: Forgery happens when written instruments (ex: checks, stamps or securities) are intended or used to deceive, defraud or injure another.
  • Tax Evasion: Tax evasion occurs when you use improper means to avoid paying state or federal taxes.
  • Computer Crimes: Computer crimes can include the commission of wire fraud online or using a computer virus to gain access to an individual’s or company’s confidential information.

White-collar crimes can be complex.  An attorney can help you understand the differences between each white-collar crime and if your conduct or planned conduct may subject you to liability.


If you are accused of a white-collar crime, one of the following defenses could assist in limiting your criminal liability:

  • Lack of Intent: In order to be liable for most white collar-crimes, you need to not only have committed the wrongful act, but have intended to commit the act.  In certain circumstances, lack of intent can be a valid defense.  However, lack of intent cannot be used as a defense against “strict liability” crimes because these crimes do not require the defendant to have intended to commit the act.  Once the wrongful act in a “strict liability” crime has been committed, the defendant is liable for it.
  • Coercion: If you or your family were threatened by another to commit a white-collar crime, the defense of coercion may be available.
  • Entrapment: If an undercover law enforcement official induces you to commit a white-collar crime that you would not have committed otherwise, the defense of entrapment may be available.  This can be a difficult defense to raise, as it requires proof that the defendant was entrapped beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Non-Fraudulent Statements: Generally, fraudulent statements require an intention to defraud another.  The defense of non-fraudulent statements may be available against a fraud claim if you unintentionally made an untrue or misleading statement.

These defenses may only be used in certain circumstances or against specific crimes.  A white-collar criminal defense attorney can ensure that you employ the best defenses against the applicable white-collar claims.

How a White-Collar Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You

A white-collar criminal defense attorney can be beneficial in many ways.  First, the attorney can assist by ensuring proactive compliance measures are put in place within a company.  An attorney can create internal controls, or company-wide measures and procedures, such as auditing policies or implement compliance and ethics training for all employees.  The attorney can also conduct risk assessments to determine where an organization may be at risk for liability of a white-collar crime.

Second, an attorney can advise organizations on ways to minimize corporate liability.  Generally, an employer could be found liable for the illegal actions of an employee who committed the crimes within the scope of the worker’s employment.  An employer could also be found liable for the negligent hiring of an employee if certain conditions are met.

In addition, a white-collar criminal defense attorney can assist with mitigating the harsh penalties associated with a white-collar crime.  Punishments for white-collar crimes can be severe and include large fines, imprisonment, losing a professional license or forfeiting your personal assets.  An experienced attorney can help mitigate these penalties by asserting the right defense or negotiating a plea bargain agreement.

If you are looking for legal assistance and would like to speak with an experienced white-collar criminal defense attorney, contact a member of our team for next steps.

Romano Law can provide guidance on white collar crimes in New York, California and Florida.


Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash


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