White-collar crimes, named for the collar color of people in business in the early- to mid- 20th century, refer to financial crimes typically in the corporate sector. There are many kinds of white-collar crimes, but nearly all are motivated by the potential for financial gain.
Some of the most common kinds of white-collar crimes include:
- Tax evasion
- Money laundering
- Ponzi schemes
- Insider trading
While the majority of crimes of this nature take place in business, it's possible that they could be committed by the everyday person. To be convicted, however, the prosecution has to show that you willingly participated in fraud. If you didn't know that it was taking place or made mistakes that simply appeared like you were committing fraud, then a conviction would be unlikely.
Understand tax evasion
One of the most common white-collar crimes that people run into is tax evasion. Many worry that they'll be accused of tax evasion if they don't get their taxes right, which is why it's usually advised that people work with accountants. However, as noted above, making mistakes on your taxes doesn't constitute fraud.
The tax code is extremely complex, and it makes sense that it could become confusing and cause people to make errors. Fortunately enough, the Internal Revenue Service usually knows how to recognize errors versus intentional fraud. However, if you are being accused of tax evasion when that is not the case, then it would be a good idea to speak with your attorney immediately.
Embezzlement is more common than you may think
Another common crime is embezzlement. It occurs when you improperly take money from someone to whom you owe a duty. For example, if you take a few dollars out of the cash register at work because you think no one will notice, then you could be accused of embezzlement and face a conviction. On the other hand, if you take money out of the register because you've counted multiple times and it's total shows you have an overage, that may be an innocent mistake that you can learn from.
As you can imagine, most white-collar criminal cases require a lot of investigation and to look at the individual details to see if real fraudulent activities occurred. Many cases are simply mistakes that appear to be fraud. If you're accused, know that it's in your best interests to talk to your attorney before any investigation begins.