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What are White-Collar Crimes?

What are White-Collar Crimes?

White-collar crimes can sometimes be considered as "paper" or "money" crimes, but the definition is more complex than that. A white-collar crime is a crime committed by someone of status or power, and is a non-violent crime. The California Penal Code has dozens of codes for white-collar crime. Among the most common examples are bribery, identity theft, extortion, embezzlement, health care fraud, and credit card fraud.

There are many more kinds of white-collar crime. To establish cause for a white-collar crime charge or grand jury indictment, there are a number of elements that must be met. Learn more about what white-collar crime is.

The Definition of White-Collar Crime

White-collar crime is known as being a crime with a very specific offense and a very specific offender. The motives of the crimes often play a role in the charges and prosecution, but it is the crime and the offender that will determine the conviction.

The type of offense in the white-collar crime categories in California are offenses that involve fraud, embezzlement, identity theft, and more. The most common offenses are theft, fraud, and corruption.

There are a number of entries in the California Penal Code that will fall into any one of those three categories.

For offenders, the offender is defined as a white-collar criminal by the top of profession or status they have. They have to be respectable in the community or even the world. Or, they may have a high-ranking position in a job.

The position, status, or profession could be in either the public sector or the private sector. That could mean a job in the corporate world or with a government or public service.

Motives for committing white-collar crimes typically connect to money and/or power. A prosecutor will work to show where money motivations are indicated. Personal interests that involve the acquisition of power or keeping business afloat can also be motivations for white-collar crime.

Some white-collar crime is high profile, such as with a celebrity or famous person, but not all offenses fall into that category.

Types of California White-Collar Crime

There are a number of different types of white-collar crime in California. Here is a look at some of the most common ones.


Extortion law in California stipulates that a crime is extortion when threats or a fear of violence is used to earn money from another person. The violence does not have to be overt. The threat is enough.


Forgery occurs when someone alters a written document and uses it to commit fraud. That object can be anything that involves obtaining financial gain or even financial information. These crimes can be prosecuted by either the District Attorney or the United States Attorney.


When a person misrepresents a material fact in order to gain something for themselves they have committed fraud. This could be in the form of a false statement, or some other element in order to personally gain something.


Larceny is a kind of theft that involves taking something from someone without ever intending to give it back.

California Penal Code on White-Collar Crimes

This is a list of the white-collar crimes and their corresponding penal codes:

• California Penal Code 115: Filing a False or Forged Document

• California Penal Code 118: Perjury

• California Penal Code 154: Fraudulent Conveyance

• California Penal Code 424: Misappropriation of Public Funds

• California Penal Code 470: Forgery

• California Penal Code 476(a): Passing Bad Checks

• California Penal Code 484g - Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card

• California Penal Code 484h - Credit Card Fraud by Retailer

• California Penal Code 484i: Counterfeiting Credit Cards

• California Penal Code 503: Embezzlement

• California Penal Code 504: Embezzlement by a Public Official

• California Penal Code 529: False Impersonation 

• California Penal Code 531 - Participating in a Fraudulent Conveyance

• California Penal Code 532: Theft by False Pretenses

• California Penal Code 532f: Mortgage Fraud

• California Penal Code 548: Damage or Abandon a Vehicle for Auto Insurance Fraud

• California Penal Code 550 - Submitting Fraudulent Insurance Claims

• California Penal Code 548-551: Auto Insurance Fraud

• California Penal Code 550(a): Health Insurance Fraud

• California Unemployment Insurance Code 2101: Unemployment Insurance Fraud

• California Welfare and Institutions Code 10980 - Welfare Fraud

• California Insurance Code 1871.4: Workers' Compensation Fraud

• California Business and Professions Code 17511.9 - Telemarketing Fraud

Book a Consultation With a California White Collar Crime Attorney

If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge or indictment on white-collar crime, you will need help to navigate this complex matter. This is a serious problem. Very often, because many of these crimes are paper crimes, by the time the charge occurs the prosecutor and law enforcement have the probable cause they need for a conviction.

You can't go through this alone. Contact the L.A. crime attorneys at the H Law Group for help with your problem. We can help you to have charges reduced, deferred, or even dropped. Give us a call and book a review of your case today.

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