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What is a white collar crime?

Many people are aware that penalties depend on the type of crime one is convicted of committing. Therefore, we associate felonies such as murder with harsher penalties and white-collar crimes such as embezzlement with lower sentences. However, this is not necessarily the case-nowadays, prison sentences for white collar crimes are becoming lengthier and lengthier.

First of all, what is a white-collar crime? It is a crime that generally has deceit as the motivation and is committed for financial gain. Fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, Ponzi scams, securities fraud-all come under the umbrella of white-collar crimes. Maryland residents may be under the misconceptions that since these crimes are victimless crimes-that is, not physically harming the victim-they probably are not punished severely. However, even judges have pointed out that this is not the case-the way the sentencing guidelines exist right now means that regardless of one's involvement in the crime, the penalty remains the same.

This happens because the guidelines mandate focusing on the amount of money that is made or lost in the scheme, regardless of the type of crime. With data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission demonstrating that the amount of money involved in financial fraud cases has steadily increased, meaning that the amount of recommended prison sentences also leapt higher, as they are dependent on the cost of the crime.

Criminal charges, regardless of the nature, should be taken seriously. This may mean utilizing the constitutional right of silence and right of attorney to ensure that one's rights are protected. Many Maryland residents may not even be aware of the rights they have once charges have been levied against them, and it may be in their best interest to consider consulting an experienced attorney for guidance.

Source: FindLaw, "White Collar crime," Accessed on April 25, 2016,

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Law Offices of
James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

Law Offices of James N. Papirmeister, Esq.
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Silver Spring, MD 20910

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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013