White-collar crimes are a unique classification of criminal transgressions and the concept was first developed by Edwin Sutherland. Sutherland defined the wording as referring to crimes committed by “respectable people” while working for their chosen occupation. White-collar crime can include a very wide variety of criminal offenses and can typically be divided into two categories of crimes.
The people who commit white-collar crimes are typically those of a higher social status. These individuals may have graduate degrees, heads of companies, professional certifications, and perhaps high political standing. The different types of crimes that these individuals may be involved in could include: embezzlement, taking bribes, unnecessary surgery, overcharging, alteration of financial information, and the list goes on.
The victim of these crimes is typically the client of the professional. The crime is also committed to promote the personal interests of the person committing the crime. It may affect single people or an entire group of people that the criminal was providing some kind of service for. These crimes usually do not benefit an entire organization but a specific person and could be committed either for money or power. White-collar crimes of this type prove that poverty does not always breed crime and it can be found just about everywhere in any social group.
Corporate or organizational crime
The other type of white-collar crime is one that is committed by a corporation or any organization. The list of crimes for this type can include: not following proper safety regulations to save money, knowingly polluting the environment or people, price fixing, creating inferior products, use of inferior materials to save money, false advertisement of a product, embezzlement by many members of a corporation, illicit banking practices, and many others.
The people affected by these types of white-collar crimes can range greatly from one to groups and perhaps even thousands of people. The victims can be consumers or the general public. These crimes are generally far more costly than other crimes and may cost upwards of hundreds of billions which far exceeds any other type of crime. The criminals are typically corporate executives and the crimes are committed in order to benefit the company and more than one individual.
Punishment for these crimes
Unfortunately, while these crimes are illegal, it is often very difficult to prove or detect these crimes and the charges aren’t always criminal or require heavy sentencing. In many cases people or corporations are fined or made to stop their practices. The responsibility of the crimes is often diffused through the corporate structure and no one person is responsible or able to be blamed. Also the affected people are not always seriously injured or suffer from these crimes. Often the crimes are not as prolific and injury or loss is spread over a large group of people thus mitigating the individual amount each person experiences.
Of the suspected white-collar crimes committed, only 5% are every proven and prosecuted. The individuals involved are also only given light sentencing or fines, so the punishment is much less severe. Sometimes no one is sent to jail as criminal charges are not brought against those responsible or they are proved innocent.
The reason why many white-collar criminals don’t go to jail has to do with a double standard that exists. Most white-collar cases are not as rigorously pursued as many of other classifications of crime. In many cases, the responsible individuals or parties are able to get away with crimes because of their money and the law.
With the money that these individuals or companies possess, they are able to afford the best lawyers or perhaps even groups/teams of lawyers to get the best legal advice possible, which few others are able to afford. Some laws actually favor white-collar crimes and criminals. They are able to use everything to their advantages and often law enforcement does not actively fight white-collar crime because it is too busy with other crimes.