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Categories of Crime: 'White Collar' Is a Very Broad Term

Going forward, we will be covering several other criminal defense topics in this blog besides sex offenses. The additional topics will include white collar crimes, violent crimes, weapons offense and appeals.

Of course, the conceptual line between categories of crime is not always clear. "White collar crime," for example, is a broad term that can include a variety of offenses, many of which involve allegations of fraud. Mortgage fraud, insurance fraud, healthcare fraud, securities fraud - there are many forms such allegations can take.

White collar crime can also involve allegations of embezzlement, bribery or public corruption.

It can also be difficult to categorize particular conduct as "violent" or "nonviolent." Consider, for example, a recent case in Arizona, in which a former Wall Street trader suddenly collapsed and died in the courtroom after he was found guilty of arson. The 52-year-old man was being prosecuted for setting fire to his own mansion, for which he could no longer afford the payments.

The death appeared to be a suicide. Immediately after the jury delivered its verdict of guilty, the man was seen to put something in his mouth and drink from a bottle.

As criminal sentencing authority Doug Berman pointed out, it is unclear how the events in this case should be categorized. In a sense, it was a white collar case, because the case involved a high-flying financier whose motivation for burning down his house may have been solely monetary.

Arson, however, has long been categorized as a violent offense. And yet the real motive may not have been violent; it may have been insurance fraud.

In short, criminal cases deal with real people, not with abstract categories.

Source: "Did (white-collar?) arsonist poison himself in courtroom right after hearing verdict and sentence?" Sentencing Law and Policy, Doug Berman, 6-30-12

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our St. Louis white collar crime defense page.

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