Common Types of White Collar Crimes in California [2024 Updated]

Law Offices of Marc S. Nurik

Anyone charged with committing a white collar crime in California faces serious potential penalties. Depending on the amount of money involved and the number of offenses, defendants can face multiple misdemeanor or felony charges, even for a first-time offense. Given the many types of white collar crimes in California, business owners and employees should be aware of the common types of crimes that can be prosecuted.

Both federal and California criminal laws cover white collar crimes, meaning criminal charges could potentially come from a number of law enforcement agencies.

Common Types of White Collar Crimes in California

Both California and the federal government have criminal laws that punish convicted offenders of fraudulent acts that fall under white collar crime. While not an exhaustive list, here are several of the more common white collar crimes that could be prosecuted in California:

  • Embezzlement. This involves the misappropriation of assets or funds that were entrusted to someone’s care. If an investment banker uses funds for personal use, like paying off a debt, that banker could face embezzlement charges.
  • Insurance fraud. The deliberate manipulation of an insurance policy for personal gain could land someone with a criminal charge for insurance fraud. One example would be someone falsifying a damage report in order to receive monetary compensation from an insurance company.
  • Securities fraud. When someone engages in insider trading, disseminating false information, or manipulating bond prices, they can be charged with securities fraud. As with other white collar crimes, prosecutors often have to prove that a crime occurred and the defendant knew they were committing a crime.
  • Identity theft. Identity theft involves using someone else’s personal information for nefarious reasons. Personal information that can be stolen includes credit card details, Social Security numbers, bank account information, and other forms of information. Criminals often engage in this activity as a means of stealing someone’s personal assets.
  • Mortgage fraud. When someone omits important information or misrepresents information during the mortgage lending process, they can be charged with committing mortgage fraud. Examples could include falsifying income and property values.
  • Forgery. Any alteration, creation, or use of false documentation for the purpose of deceiving or defrauding others can potentially constitute an act of forgery. Common examples of forgery would be signing someone else’s checks or legal documents.
  • Healthcare fraud. Healthcare fraud is a growing problem in this country. When someone overbills or provides false information to a healthcare provider or insurance company, those deceitful acts could be considered healthcare fraud.

No matter what type of white collar crime you are charged with, having an experienced defense attorney by your side can help get your side of the story out. Often, complex financial transactions are misunderstood. Just because a business deal doesn’t work out doesn’t always mean that a crime was committed.

Potential Penalties for White Collar Crime in California

Under the law, if someone is found guilty of the fraudulent appropriation of assets by a person entrusted with managing those assets, they could be convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the amount of money that was embezzled. California’s penal code classifies bribery involving low amounts of money as a misdemeanor.

Many federal laws cover white collar crimes. The federal courts may become involved if the criminal offense occurred in multiple states, on federal land, or was investigated by federal officials. The federal courts work similarly to California’s criminal courts in that defendants have constitutional protections and attend hearings while their charges are pending.

Under federal law, money laundering could result in a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if the defendant knowingly engages in money laundering in an amount greater than $10,000. If you were charged with committing a white collar crime, there are certain steps you should take, like refraining from discussing the allegations with anyone but your attorney.


Q: What Is White Collar Crime?

A: White collar crimes are nonviolent crimes that seek financial gain. The people who commit white collar crimes are often business people who work in financial and banking institutions. White collar crimes often seek profits through the use of misrepresentation and deception. The crimes could involve falsified business records and coercive acts. Defendants can hire white collar defense attorneys who have experience representing clients in similar cases.

Q: What Types of Crimes Are White Collar?

A: Examples of white collar crimes include bribery, extortion, money laundering, securities fraud, Ponzi schemes, and embezzlement, among other crimes. Even though the crimes are nonviolent in nature, it does not mean that a conviction would not lead to serious penalties for someone charged with these crimes. White collar crimes can lead to felony convictions that could come with jail or prison sentences.

Q: Why Are White Collar Crimes Hard to Prosecute?

A: White collar crimes are often difficult to prosecute because investigating white collar crimes is often very time-consuming and requires knowledge of how business transactions work. Local law enforcement agencies often do not have the resources to investigate complex financial instruments and lengthy accounting ledgers for signs of fraud. Even when a crime is suspected, prosecutors must prove intent when prosecuting these types of crimes.

Q: What Is White Versus Green Collar Crime?

A: White collar crime refers to crimes that seek financial gain without the use of violence. Green collar crimes involve criminal acts that harm the environment. Perpetrators of green collar crimes often seek to bypass regulations or exploit natural resources for financial gain. Business owners who try to cut costs by ignoring environmental regulations could be seen as committing green collar crimes.

Schedule Your White Collar Crime Consultation Today

If you were charged with a white collar crime, don’t lose hope. There are many defenses for accusations of bribery, extortion, and securities fraud, and prosecutors can make mistakes when interpreting business record transactions.

Conviction for white collar crimes often requires that prosecutors prove intent, and many defendants can demonstrate that they thought their business activities were allowable under the law. The attorneys at Law Offices of Marc S. Nurik are here to help. To schedule a consultation, contact our office today.

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