White Collar Crime: What Is It?
White collar crime is a generic term. It refers to any of a huge range of offenses often performed with pen (or computer) and paper, as opposed to material objects such as drugs or guns. White collar crime is to be contrasted with offenses dependent upon application or threat of physical force or violence. Accusations of white collar crime typically allege deceit, concealment, or violations of trust. White collar crimes encompasse diverse areas such as fraud, bribery, ponzi schemes, insider trading, embezzlement, cybercrime, copyright infringement, money laundering, identity theft, tax evasion, tax fraud, and forgery. Crimes relating to the environment, such as water pollution, are also often classified as white collar crimes.
In many instances, white collar crimes violate both New Jersey and federal law. A principal tool of white collar crimes is documents, including of course, electronic documents. That is one way to help distinguish white collar crimes from “street crimes.” Accusations of white collar crime often arise in the context of employment or political office.
New Jersey Crimes Versus Federal Crimes:
Some white collar crimes are defined exclusively by the New Jersey Legislature, and have no federal counterpart. Cases involving those crimes will be heard in the Superior Court of New Jersey. Conversely, other white collar crimes are defined exclusively by Congress. If those cases arose in New Jersey, they will be heard in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.
Many white collar crimes involve violations of both New Jersey and federal law. Courses of activity prohibited by both the New Jersey Legislature and Congress will never be worded identically. The reason for this is that the United States Constitution requires some Constitutional basis for federal jurisdiction. Thus the federal law must be defined in a way that satisfies that constitutional basis. The New Jersey Constitution imposes no such requirement. Where a course of activity violates both New Jersey and federal law, the prosecutions can proceed in both New Jersey and federal courts. The Supreme Courts of both the United States and New Jersey say that these separate prosecutions do not violate Constitutional prohibitions against double jeopardy.
A person commits bribery when he offers, confers, or agrees to confer, or accept, an unauthorized benefit upon, or from another. The consideration for the benefit must involve the vote in a political context, or the exercise, or failure to exercise, a discretionary function. Bribery includes offering or accepting benefits as consideration for the performance of official duties. When the official duties relate to a New Jersey state office, or of a political subdivision thereof, the relevant statutes are N.J.S. 2C:27-2 and N.J.S. 2C:27-3. New Jersey public officials obviously can be prosecuted for New Jersey crimes. Often the alleged fact pattern lends itself to prosecution in federal court. For example, the alleged bribery could have involved use of the United States Postal Service. Or it could have related to projects that received federal funds. The federal bribery of public officials and witnesses statute is defined at 18 U.S.C. 201. When it is a federal public official that is involved, the alleged offense will likely be prosecuted only as a federal crime even though, technically, New Jersey bribery laws would be implicated as well.
Copyright infringement/video piracy:
Section 506 of Title 17 of the United States Code makes it a criminal offense to infringe copyrights. New Jersey does not define copyright infringement as such to be a crime. However, New Jersey does prohibit video piracy. The relevant statute is N.J.S. 2C:21-21, the “New Jersey Anti-Piracy Act”. This Act reaches both sound and video recordings. The Act reaches both the manufacture, sale, resale, or offering for rental of unauthorized works.
Like white collar crime, corporate crime is a generic term. The diverse areas encompassed by white collar crime can be forms of corporate crimes. Where corporate crime distinguishes itself from white collar crime is that corporate crimes involve the company as a whole, whereas white collar crimes benefit a single (or small number of) individuals.
Corporate crime is intended to benefit investors, or individuals in high positions in the company or corporation. The two types of crime are similar in that both occur within the business world. While corporate crime may incidentally benefit its individual actor, the thrust of its objective is to benefit the company or the corporation. In white collar crimes, the defendants are typically one or more individuals. In corporate crime cases, the defendants will often include the corporation itself, in addition to the alleged individual actors.
New Jersey defines a wide range of computer activity to be unlawful. Many of these offenses are described at N.J.S. 2C:20-25. Included are accessing computer software, data, or a database without authorization. Authorization also is required to alter, damage, or destroy data, or to disrupt computer services,including access to the internet. Not surprisingly, Cybercrime might also include child pornagraphy, but we deal with that area of the law elsewhere.
On the federal side, the definitions and specifications of computer crimes consumer three and a half pages. These three and a half pages are to be found in Section 1030 of Title 18 of the United States Code. Additional federal computer crimes are defined elsewhere.
18 U.S.C. U.S.C. §1030 describes the same types of activities defined for New Jersey crimes. However, persons engaging in these activities must do something “extra” in order to qualify as a federal crime. One way for that to happen is for the activity to involve a “protected computer.” Protected computers are computers used by the federal government, including federal agencies. They also include computers used in interstate commerce. And they include computers used by financial institutions.
New Jersey does not have a specific crime that it labels “embezzlement.” Embezzlement crimes under New Jersey law, therefore, would be included under the general heading of theft. This would include theft by deception, as well as theft by failure to make required disposition of property received.
Under federal law, crimes do exist that are labeled embezzlement. Similar to New Jersey, however, these crimes are defined in the same section of federal criminal code as related theft offenses. Thus Chapter 31 of Title 18 is labelled “Embezzlement and Theft.” And particular sections within that Chapter are labelled similarly. For example, Section 664 of Title 18 of the United States Code is labelled “Theft or embezzlement from employee benefit plan.”
Federal law defines various categories of environmental crimes. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act begins at Section 1251 of Title 33 of the Unites States Code. The Ocean Dumping Act begins at Section 1401 of Title 33 of the United States Code. The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships begins at Section 1901 of Title 33 of the United States COde. The Safe Drinking Water Act begins at Section 300f of Title 42 of the United States Code.
Forgery under New Jersey law is defined at N.J.S. 2C:21-1. Under that section, it is unlawful to make an unauthorized writing that purports to be the writing of someone else. This applies when the writing is made with the intent to defraud or injure someone. this section also prohibits “uttering” any writing known to have been so forged.
Chapter 25 of Title 18 of the United States Code deals with counterfeiting and forgery. That Chapter defines crimes relating to (among other things) securities of the United States, securities of States, securities of a foreign government, money orders, postage stamps, and signatures of United States judges or other court officers. Typically, violations of federal forgery laws call for imprisonment for up to twenty years.
Fraud under New Jersey law encompasses a wide range of practices. These include falsification of records, raudulent health care claims, bad checks, insurance fraud, and misrepresentation of mileage on motor vehicles. These crimes are defined, for the most part, in Chapter 21 of Title 2C.
Fraud in the federal sphere is defined in Chapter 47 of the United States Code. 18 U.S.C. U.S.C. §1001 makes it a crime to falsify any material fact within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the United States government. Other provisions relate to false statements on loan and credit applications, naturalization, title records, and health care.
Insider trading is not per se illegal. It becomes illegal when insiders base their securities trading decisions upon material, nonpublic information about the security. Insider trading violations may also include trading by persons who receive such non-public information (“tipping”) from insiders. Laws relating to illegal insider trading are enforced by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
Provisions against money laundering exist under both New Jersey and federal law. New Jersey includes within money laundering engaging in a transaction involving preperty known to be derived from crimnal activity with the purpose to facilitate the criminal activity, or to avoid transaction reporting requirements. Depending upon the value of the transaction in question, money laundering can be a crime of the third, second, or first degree. Regardless of the degree, the fine for money laundering under New Jersey law can be up to $500,000.00. The main New Jersey money laundering statute is N.J.S. 2C:21-25.
The federal prohibitions against money laundering are contained in Chapter 95 of the United States Code. That is the chapter that relates to racketeering. 18 U.S.C. U.S.C. §1956, prohibits the activities as specified under New Jersey money laundering, all in the federal context. The maximum fine is $500,000.00, or twice the value of the transaction, whichever is greater. The maximum period of imprisonment is twenty years.
New Jersey includes securities fraud in Chapter 41 of its Code of Criminal Justice. Chapter 41 relates to racketeering. N.J.S. 2C:41-1a(1)(p) includes as racketeering fraud in the offerng, sale, or purchase of securities when those activities violate the laws of New Jersey or any other jurisdiction. “Ponzi schemes” would fall under this definition. By its expansive definition, securities fraud in New Jersey incorporates by reference securities fraud under federal law.
Section 1348 of Title 18 of the United States Code prohibits schemes to defraud in connection with issuance of securities registered or required to be registered under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934. Persons convicted for violating 18 U.S.C. U.S.C. §1348 face imprisonment for up to twenty-five years.
Tax Evasion and Tax Fraud:
Tax evasion and tax fraud can be either a New Jersey crime or a federal crime, or both, depending on the governmental entity involved. Federal statutes most often involved are 18 U.S.C. U.S.C. §7201, 18 U.S.C. §7202, 18 U.S.C. §7203, 18 U.S.C. §7206, and 18 U.S.C. §7201. Criminal Lawyers in New Jersey™ discuss each of these provisions in more detail on the “Tax Crimes” page on this site.
An Entire Chest of White Collar Crimes
Huge numbers of crimes can be characterized as “white collar” exist. Here are some of them:
|Description of Offense||New Jersey Statute/s||Federal Statute/s|
|Animal Crush Videos||N.J.S. 4:22-17b||18 U.S.C. §48|
|Antitrust Violations/Restraint of Trade||N.J.S. 56:9-1 et seq.||15 U.S.C. §1311|
|Bad Checks||N.J.S. 2C:21-5|
|Bank Fraud||N.J.S. 2C:20-14||18 U.S.C. §656;
18 U.S.C. §1344
|Blackmail||18 U.S.C. §873|
|Corporate Official, Misconduct by||N.J.S. 2C:21-9|
|Credit Card Theft/
Credit Card Fraud
|Criminal Simulation||N.J.S. 2C:21-2 and
N.J.S. 2C:21-2.1 and
N.J.S. 2C:21-2.2 and
|Deceptive Business Practices||N.J.S. 2C:21-7|
|Dentistry, Unlicensed Practice of||N.J.S. 2C:21-30|
|Electrical Contracting Without Business Permit||N.J.S. 2C:21-33|
|Embezzlement||N.J.S. 2C:20-2e||18 U.S.C. §641 et seq.|
|Environmental Crimes||N.J.S. 58:10A-10f|
|Extortion||N.J.S. 2C:20-5||18 U.S.C. §1951|
|Forgery||N.J.S. 2C:21-1||Numerous, including
18 U.S.C. §498,
18 U.S.C. §1543, and
18 U.S.C. §1644
|Hazardous Waste||N.J.S. 2C:17-2,
|Health Care Claims Fraud||N.J.S. 2C:21-4.3||18 U.S.C. §1347|
|Identity Theft||N.J.S. 2C:21-17||18 U.S.C. §1028,
18 U.S.C. §1028A
|Insider Trading||15 U.S.C. §78dd-1|
|Insurance Fraud||N.J.S. 2C:21-4.6||18 U.S.C. §1033|
|“Kosher,” Frauds Relating to||N.J.S. 2C:21-7.4|
|Law, Unauthorized Practice of||N.J.S. 2C:21-22|
|Mail Fraud||18 U.S.C. §1341|
|Medical waste, illegal dumping of||N.J.S. 13:1E-48.20|
|Medicine, Unlicensed Practice of||N.J.S. 2C:21-20|
|Mileage on Motor Vehicle, Misrepresentation of||N.J.S. 2C:21-8|
|Money Laundering and Illegal Investments||N.J.S. 2C:21-25||18 U.S.C. §1956 et seq.; 31 U.S.C. §5340|
|Mortgage Fraud||N.J.S. 2C:21-2||18 U.S.C. §1010,
18 U.S.C. §1014
|Ocean or Wetlands, Illegal dumping in||N.J.S. 13:9B-21f, N.J.S. 58:10A-49a||33 U.S.C. §1415(b)|
|Perjury||N.J.S. 2C:28-1||18 U.S.C. §1621|
|Political Corruption||N.J.S. 2C:27-10;
|18 U.S.C. §201|
|Possession of Forged UPC Labels||N.J.S. 2C:21-2.4|
|Public Records, Falsifying||N.J.S. 2C:21-4|
|Public Records, Frauds Relating to||N.J.S. 2C:21-3|
|Public Records or Information, Tampering with||N.J.S. 2C:21-4 and
|18 U.S.C. §494,
18 U.S.C. §1519
|Public Resources, Corruption of||N.J.S. 2C:27-12|
|Racketeering (RICO)||N.J.S. 2C:41-2||18 U.S.C. §1951 et seq.;
18 U.S.C. §1961 et seq.
|Rigging a Publicly Exhibited Contest||N.J.S. 2C:21-11|
|Securities Fraud||N.J.S. 2C:21-3,
|18 U.S.C. §1348|
|Smokey Bear, Unauthorized Use of||18 U.S.C. §711|
|Solid Waste, Reckless transport or Illegal Disposal of||N.J.S. 13:1E-9|
|Trademarks, Counterfeiting of||N.J.S. 2C:21-32||18 U.S.C. §2318|
|Wire Fraud||18 U.S.C. §1343|
|Wiretapping||N.J.S. 2A:156A-1 et seq.||18 U.S.C. §2510|
Criminal Lawyers in New Jersey™:
Persons charged with white collar crimes under New Jersey law are exposed to sentences ranging anywhere from probation to many years in prison. High fines can be assessed. Persons convicted under federal law will usually be sentenced to a term in federal prison, to be followed by a period of federal probation. Persons charged with, or suspected of, any kind of white collar crime should meet with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer. The lawyer will want time to adequately investigate the charges and prepare a defense. It will often be necessary to find, retain, and prepare experts.
Criminal Lawyers in New Jersey has over sixty-five years combined experience. Persons facing, or possibly facing, charges involving white collar crime should call them for a no-obligation initial conference.