What is a white-collar crime?

What is a white-collar crime?

May 21, 2021 | Criminal Law


You often hear people talk about white-collar crime as if it’s a commonly understood phenomenon. It is true that most people have heard of it and even have some idea of what it entails. But there are also many myths and misconceptions.

Do you really know what constitutes a white-collar crime? If you’re facing charges, you need to know, as it may drastically impact how you approach your case.

Here’s what the FBI says about white-collar crime

To get an understanding of what the court considers a white-collar crime, let’s take a look at how the FBI defines it. They claim that it is a crime that:

  • Has an underlying financial motivation
  • Does not require the use of force
  • Is often concealed in some way
  • Is often done through fraud or deceit

For example, theft from a business may be a white-collar crime, depending on how it happens. If someone comes into the business, pretends to have a gun and takes $1,000 out of a safe, that’s a robbery. If they break in during the night and take the money while no one is around, that’s a burglary.

However, if an accountant moves $20,000 from a company account to a personal account, and then they doctor the financial records to hide the move, that’s a white-collar crime. They still stole money from the business, but you can see that they did it in a vastly different fashion. Technology often plays a role, and the goal is to get the money without anyone noticing, rather than relying on some sort of force to take it.

How does this impact your case?

One of the major differences in these cases is that they can get highly technical and very complicated. You’re talking about computer records and paper trails more than security footage or witness statements. There are a lot of little details that can drastically alter how the event is perceived.

As such, it is important to know about all of your legal options. It may help to work with an experienced legal team that understands the complexity of these cases.