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White collar crime: misconceptions can abound

Although people hear the term "white collar crime" all the time across the United States, that denoted category of unlawful behavior can easily escape neat definition and comprehensive understanding for many.

One reason is the rather generic thrust cast by the term "white collar," and the implicit suggestion that alleged crimes in this category are essentially suit-and-tie affairs that are outside the criminal mainstream. Some people believe that white collar crimes are not as closely scrutinized or investigated by law enforcement officials as are other types of crimes.

That is a huge misconception, especially in the wake of the so-called Great Recession of recent years. Over the past decade, state and federal investigative efforts focused on matters such as mortgage fraud, lending improprieties, insider trading and many other activities deemed closely related to scams and deceitful efforts have greatly intensified. White collar crime is now a huge focus area for investigatory probes of highly resourced government enforcement agencies.

An additional misconception is that the penalties for white collar criminal convictions are generally less stringent and not as vigorously applied as they are in cases involving drugs or acts of violence.

That is far from the truth, with white collar criminal defendants now being routinely prosecuted by authorities seeking sentencing outcomes that are harsh in the extreme.

One aspect of white collar crime that is instantly appreciated by many people is the sheer complexity that it often involves. As noted in an online overview of the subject, "white collar crimes can involve a variety of state and federal laws."

That often results in a protracted, systematic and deeply thorough investigatory probe by prosecutors and inspectors.

White collar criminal suspects often know they are being targeted by authorities. It is often in their best interests to enlist assistance from a proven white collar criminal defense attorney as soon as they know that they are being investigated.

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