White Collar Crimes

Professor Edwin Sutherland first used the term “white collar crime” during a speech to the American Sociological Society, defining it as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.” It’s been a long time since Professor Sutherland’s speech, and this type of crime has become a lot more sophisticated.

The current definition of “white collar crime” by the FBI is “… illegal acts which are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence.” And, today it can refer to any one of several types of nonviolent crime, i.e., those known by:

  1. the type of offense (e.g., criminal violations of environmental laws by corporations);
  2. the offender (e.g., crimes committed by people in positions of responsibility and trust, like a company CEO or a hedge fund manager); or
  3. The organization (e.g., organized crime such as the Mafia or various drug-smuggling organizations or gangs).

Serious, Smart, and Non-Violent

Usually it takes a high level of intelligence to commit white collar crime. These are illegal acts where cash is obtained through a wide variety of complex activities, such as: money laundering; tax evasion; embezzlement; Medicare or health care fraud; telemarketing fraud; identity theft; computer hacking; insider trading; counterfeiting; internet fraud; and public corruption. Violence is not involved. If you are ever accused of one of these crimes, do not hesitate in contacting Miami lawyer to defend your case.

White Collar Criminal Defense is Complex

These types of crimes are known to be very difficult for government prosecutors to try, since the activities are intentionally hidden and buried in a series of shell companies, complex and interrelated transactions, or meticulously layered shields. A great deal of sophisticated expert knowledge is required to discover the criminal activity, much less to understand, track, catch, and explain what has transpired to a jury. It takes time and great expense for the government to build a solid prosecution.

Accordingly, it is commonplace for several agencies to coordinate their efforts in the investigation and prosecution of white collar crimes. It also means that the criminal defense attorney of those accused of these crimes must be organized, savvy, and prepared to spend time and money in mounting an exceptional and effective attack against the state’s case.

Defenses to Charges of White Collar Crime

There are several strategic arguments available to someone charged with this type of crime. The most common defense involves challenging, or discrediting, the state’s prima facie case. The state’s case must provide both authentic and admissible evidence to substantiate beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the alleged crime.

Beyond a reasonable doubt is a very high standard of proof: it means that the state must prove the evidence is something …defendant is guilty to a moral certainty. It is the highest burden of proof imposed in American law today.


Entrapment is an example of an argument made by the defense, in addition to refuting the strength of the government’s prima facie case. Entrapment involves law enforcement agents inducing, tempting, and persuading someone to perform a criminal act that he or she would not have done without their efforts. And it is the government’s responsibility to prove that no entrapment occurred, once the defendant raises the challenge.


Under Florida state and federal law, significant jail time can result from a white collar crime conviction, but the major punishment felt by criminal defendants convicted of these crimes usually involves monetary losses as fines imposed and property confiscated. To the extent that imprisonment is ordered, a conviction may inhibit freedom and liberty by as such things as home detention, supervised release, or residence in a minimum-security facility.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines

For many years, federal judges uniformly imposed sentences by referencing the crime to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual. However, in 2005, the United States Supreme Court found that these set, uniform guidelines used by federal judges to impose sentences upon federal defendants were unconstitutional (U.S. v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005).) Judges were instructed by the Supreme Court to look at the federal sentencing guidelines as advisory in what sentence to impose on a defendant, and not to consider them as mandatory. By this ruling, the Supreme Court has allowed criminal defense counsel today to argue for sentencing that is appropriate to the individual, and reasonable for the particular case.

Swartz Law Firm Represent Defendants Charged With Serious White Collar Crime

With over 25 years of trial experience as a federal criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Ken Swartz represents individuals who have been accused or charged with serious white collar crime that involves the risk of serious jail time or life imprisonment as well as substantial fines and property loss. Of note, Ken Swartz has tried over 125 cases in federal court, and has developed a reputation for successfully defending a variety of white collar crime defendants.

If you or a loved one is facing federal or state charges involving white collar crime and the risk of serious jail time, life imprisonment, or hefty fines and significant property loss then please feel free to call Swartz Law Firm to schedule an initial consultation with a top criminal attorney in Miami.

Aggressively and expertly defending people who have been accused or charged with a serious crime in state or federal court – it’s what we do. Call us if we can be of help to you.

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