Although there is no set definition of white collar crime, the term is used to characterize a number of nonviolent crimes of dishonesty. These crimes are committed by professionals or entrepreneurs under the veil of legitimate business activity. Today, there is a trend toward tougher punishment for white collar crimes. A recent example is the Bernard Madoff case where Madoff received 150 years in prison. This case is a good example of the effects white collar crime can have on our society.
White collar crime can be charged in different ways depending on the illegal activity. Some criminal activities are prohibited by specific laws while others are prosecuted under one or more general laws criminalizing dishonest behavior. White collar crimes include: embezzlement, false statements, obstruction of justice, bribery, fraud (federal mail, wire, and bank fraud), federal perjury. Tax Crimes are often charged for failing to file a tax return or filing a false tax return because it is interfering with the administration of the internal revenue laws.
Tax evasion has been effectively used to arrest and convict persons who have committed more serious offenses but the prosecutor didn’t have enough evidence to press charges on those offenses. For example; Al Capone, Pete Rose and Sun Myung Moon. Computer Crime is an area of the law in which the government is constantly adding new offenses to keep up with the growth in new technologies. Federal and California Penal Codes include provisions covering computer crime such as contaminant into a computer system and using computers as part of a scheme to defraud.
In some criminal trials, the prosecutor proves all the elements of a crime but the person accused is not punished because he or she has a valid defense. Some defendants accused of white collar crimes claim entrapment by the government by claiming they were induced to act, and would not have acted unlawfully otherwise. Another defense used by businesses is that a particular businessperson was acting alone without the authority of the company. Felonies and white collar crimes can carry the strictest punishments. Federal sentencing guidelines contain a method for calculating fines to be paid by organizations that commit crimes.
Businesses that are found guilty of operating for a primarily criminal purpose incur fines equal to their total assets. California also has laws that allow the authorities to seize property connected with the commission of a crime. Due to the of lack of monitoring by our government ,our corporations’, as well as individuals has resulted in numerous acts of white collar crimes both large and small. These acts have consequences to our society that will stay with this country for several years to come if not decades.