Some crimes by their very names can conjure images of the type of person who commits them. Crimes such as assault, strong-arm robbery, or burglary may bring to mind a rough sort of individual. Another type of crime, though, may produce a different kind of mental image: “white-collar crime.”

When we hear the term white-collar crime, we may think of a business executive wearing a business suit planning some sort of arcane scheme involving complex and little understood corporate financial matters, like money laundering or insider-trading. But is this understanding entirely accurate? While these examples do indeed represent types of white-collar crime, the term itself includes many different kinds of the illegal activity.

As a general rule, white-collar crimes are nonviolent crimes. The main motivation behind them is the desire to realize financial gain by illegal means. There is no particular description of the type of person who becomes a white-collar criminal; one need not go to college, or hold a high-level company position, or steal a large amount of money to commit a white-collar crime. In fact, many types of white-collar crime are committed by otherwise decidedly ordinary people:

  • a clerical worker failing to pay taxes;
  • a cashier stealing money from the register;
  • a person who fakes an injury to collect insurance benefits;
  • a person who provides false information to obtain a home mortgage.

Despite their nonviolent nature, white-collar crimes can still lead to serious federal and New Jersey state penalties including lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines.

Accordingly, if you have been accused of a white-collar crime, you should take your legal defense has seriously as you would had you been accused of a crime of violence, beginning with the selection of a law firm that has experience with defending clients charged with money-related crimes.