The world of law has changed drastically over the past few decades. No longer is the only way to achieve societal acceptance of a two-year associate degree from a traditional college. Today one can earn a four-year degree in law without ever leaving the house. The word “white collar” refers to criminally motivated, economically motivated crime committed by people, companies, and government agencies who benefit from an unfair advantage through power and wealth. A criminal defense attorney is one such profession, which is highly competitive and ever-changing.
The changes that have occurred in law enforcement agencies, and especially in the White Collar arena are astounding. Whereas, a few short years ago there were mainly white collar police officers, now there are white collar private security officers, federal investigators, forensic scientists, FBI agents, Homeland Security personnel, and healthcare fraud investigators. This diversity represents a sea change. This also means there are a growing number of career options for lawyers. It’s no longer just the private sector that’s hiring criminal defense attorneys – there is now a large concentration of attorneys that are also working for the government.
Traditional white collar crimes are more likely to be violent and complex, whereas white-collar crimes are usually simpler and usually involve financial fraud or other offenses that do not require the type of high levels of skill and training that would be required of a white collar lawyer. For instance, securities fraud is quite common. Many people commit these crimes in order to enrich themselves and through questionable investments make phenomenal profits. They are rarely sophisticated and usually rely on slick presentations and slick defenses. Because they are often settled out of court, the Securities and Exchange Commission rarely makes any major findings against them and the major brokerage firms don’t even work with them anymore.
In addition to white collar crime, we see more misdemeanors being filed with disturbing irregularity. These crimes are generally less complicated than white collar crime and are less likely to be resolved through the use of probation or incarceration. These crimes are usually less damaging to the defendant as well. A prosecutor who is dealing with complex white-collar crimes will find it far easier to pursue than a prosecutor who has to deal with a set of typical federal crimes.
According to the US Sentencing Guidelines, white-collar crimes cost the country about 300 billion a year. The offenders who are most common are tax frauds and the investment frauds of currency manipulation. Chemical, food and pharmaceutical violations are also common and can have an economic impact on the United States.
There are three types of white-collar crimes. The most obvious ones are those that fall under Federal offenses. These include murder, robbery, arson, embezzlement, conspiracy and insider trading. However, there are also corporate crimes, such as securities fraud, False Advertising and False Imprisonment, which are covered under state law.
Corporate crimes occur when a company engages in activities that are intended to interfere with the balance of trade. In this case, investors, business owners and CEOs are targeted because they have a direct stake in that business. This is why investors are rarely put in jail for their involvement in securities frauds. There are plenty of cases of government professionals who have engaged in white-collar crimes and escaped punishment due to high levels of state security clearances. Often, the state will rely on testimony from witnesses to secure an outcome against the perpetrator.
The study of criminology is a good starting point if you are interested in criminal law. Criminology examines the causes of crime and why it occurs. It can even help victims of crimes to fight back and take legal action against those who have perpetrated corporate crimes. Law enforcement agencies, including sheriffs, police departments, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, also rely on studies done on criminology.