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Are white-collar crimes felonies?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | CRIMINAL LAW - Criminal Defense

White-collar crimes are non-violent offenses committed in commercial settings for financial gain. These crimes often involve deceit, breach of trust, fraud, or concealment.

Because the nature of white-collar crimes is non-violent, they may seem inconsequential. However, these offenses are impactful and often result in serious legal consequences. Those in finance or business must know if these crimes are felonies.

Types of white-collar crimes

White-collar crimes include various finance-related offenses. The most common are embezzlement, fraud, insider trading, money laundering, and bribery.

Felony vs. misdemeanor

The courts classify crimes as either misdemeanors or felonies. The distinction lies in the severity of the offense and the corresponding penalties.

Misdemeanors are less severe crimes. These crimes often result in shorter jail sentences (up to one year) and smaller fines.

Felonies are more serious offenses. These can lead to longer prison terms (over one year) and larger fines.

When do white-collar crimes become felonies?

Several factors determine if white-collar crimes are misdemeanors or felonies:

  • Loss value: Higher financial losses usually make the crime a felony. For example, embezzling over $1000 can lead to felony charges.
  • Nature of the crime: Some white-collar crimes are always felonies. Complex crimes like money laundering and large-scale fraud carry stricter penalties. This is because they have a greater impact and cause more substantial financial harm.
  • Prior convictions: White-collar misdemeanors may become felonies for repeat offenders.
  • Victim impact: Crimes causing significant public harm may become felonies.

Severe consequences for white-collar crimes

White-collar crimes are non-violent but carry severe legal consequences, especially as felonies. Knowing the penalties for white-collar crimes is vital. Awareness of these consequences and following legal standards can help avoid serious charges.