Sentencing and Penalty Guidelines for White-collar Crimes






Although white-collar crimes are legally referred to as non-violent crimes, they can lead to severe penalties that are similar to violent crimes. If you have been involved in a white-collar crime or you’re facing an allegation over white-collar crimes, you should speak to a Gilbert criminal defense lawyer immediately.

What are White-collar Crimes?

The term ‘white-collar’ crime is used in a broad sense to describe a variety of financial crimes. They generally include a series of non-violent crimes that are committed in commercial situations primarily for financial gain.

They include crimes like;  bankruptcy fraud, embezzlement, computer and internet fraud, financial institution fraud, tax evasion, public corruption, counterfeiting, intellectual property theft, credit card fraud, money laundering, healthcare fraud, environmental law violations, antitrust violations, economic espionage, trade secret theft, government fraud, insurance fraud, securities fraud, etc.

What are the Criminal charges and punishments for white-collar Crimes?

When it comes to white-collar crimes, there are federal and state laws involved. For example, in Texas, white-collar crimes involving theft of over $200,000 is considered a first-degree felony, and legal punishment may include state imprisonment of up to 5 years or more and a fine of up to $10,000. Theft of $100,000 to $200,000 is considered a second-degree felony and may attract a jail term between 2 to 5 years and a fine of $10,000, while thefts of $20,000 to $100,000 are considered a third-degree felony and may attract a jail term of 2 years and a fine of $10,000.

Generally, the legal consequences for white-collar crimes may include fines, community confinement, forfeiture of property, restitution of stolen funds, home detention, supervised release, paying the cost of prosecution, and imprisonment. According to the federal sentencing guidelines, longer prison sentences should be imposed when a victim suffers significant financial harm. However, if the defendant takes responsibility for the crime, the sanction can be lessened.

Sentencing Guidelines for White-collar Crimes

The appropriate legal penalties for a white-collar crime are determined by the kind of crime committed and the severity of the crime, and they also depend on certain individual circumstances. The five main factors that influence sentencing include:


The state laws provide a maximum punishment that is allowed for a crime. Judges usually incorporate both state guidelines and federal guidelines to determine the appropriate punishment for a given crime. Although when represented by an experienced criminal defense lawyer, defendants may receive a lesser sentence.


A defendant’s criminal history can also determine the sentencing they would receive. If the defendant has a past criminal history, they are more likely to receive harsher sentences, irrespective of if their previous crime relates to the current charges against them or not. If the defendant is a first-time offender, there are higher chances of receiving lesser sentences or negotiating for lighter sentences.


A white-collar crime may be referred to either as a felony or as a misdemeanor. State guidelines regulate the sentences given by a judge depending on the severity of the crime. For example, white-collar jobs that are regarded as misdemeanors rather than a felony would have lesser penalties than white-collar crimes that are regarded as felonies.


Certain circumstances around the crime can play a mitigating role in the sentencing. For instance, if the defendant has experienced a major life crisis recently, such as losing a loved one, the judge may be more lenient in the sentencing. Also, the role of the defendant in the crime can also influence their sentence. If the defendant were an accomplice, they would receive a lesser sentence than if they were the perpetrator. In addition, circumstances such as harm suffered by an innocent person during the crime may also affect the sentencing of the defendants.


Certain crimes can cause societal sensations and generate more attention from the media. In such scenarios, criminal sentencing is often influenced. While the judicial system should uphold the law fairly, the influence of societal pressure on judicial systems cannot be neglected. For one, crimes such as child abuse, child pornography, other child-related offenses, and drug offenses are more likely to cause a stir in the media. In such instances, judges or other law enforcement officials may give stricter punishments to the defendants.

Being involved in a white-collar job may be a serious offense or not, depending on the crime committed and the severity of the crime. Either way, working with a criminal defense lawyer may be your only gateway to getting legal representation for your case and, subsequently, a fair trial.

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