Beyond the silver screen
When many think of white-collar crime, they often envision gangsters, the
mob, crime rings and other organized offenses. Much of this imagery comes
from the movies, as Hollywood has made cinematic efforts to depict some
of the most notorious and notable mafia and mob prosecutions of all time.
However, such hyped stereotypes are not the only examples of
white-collar crime. In fact, white-collar crime can involve very inconspicuous transactions.
White-collar crime is prosecuted through federal laws or New York's
legal system. Prosecutors are quick to punish white-collar offenders and
do not hesitate to impose significant penalties, including hefty fines
and ample time behind bars.
While authorities remain aggressive in pursuing offenders of white-collar
crime, it is not hard for a person to be unintentionally brought into
in a scheme and be unaware of the criminal repercussions. For those accused
of a white-collar crime, it is helpful to retain a qualified legal professional
who can challenge any allegations.
Again, white-collar crime charges derive from both state and federal laws.
As a New York resident, it is helpful to be familiar with both.
What are white-collar offenses under New York codes?
Several criminal offenses are within the ambit of white-collar crime in
the state. There are seven common charges that makeup this type of criminal
activity. These crimes are typically executed in a criminal network or system.
Issuing a bad check: A person may face charges for
issuing a bad check if he or she, with knowledge, writes a check from an account containing
inadequate funds. This is considered a Class B misdemeanor.
Forgery: Under New York law, there are three main types of forgery. Generally, forgery
in the third degree is when a person creates, completes or alters a written
instrument in an effort to deceive or harm another. This practice is deemed
a Class A misdemeanor.
Second-degree forgery involves the offense in the third degree, but the
charge is more egregious. An offense in the second degree involves one
of the following instruments:
- A legal agreement
- A medical prescription
- Certificates or notes in place of tangible money
- Commercial instrument
- Credit card
- A public record
- A deed
- An instrument created or issued by a public authority
Forgery in the second degree is considered a Class D felony.
A first-degree charge is the most severe. It is also forgery in the third
degree; however, it includes one of the following:
- Any government-issued instrument of value
- Any instruments that signify interests or claims in or against an organization
First-degree forgery is considered a Class C felony.
Identity theft: Another serious white-collar crime in New York involves the theft of one's
identity. This crime, too, can be executed in varying degrees.
Identity theft in the third degree is when a person "assumes the identity of another
with the intent to commit fraud." In such cases, the offender represents
himself or herself as another person and behaves as if he or she is, in
fact, the person. Generally, offenders use the personal identification
information of the victim to perform the crime and complete one of the
• Receives property
• Acquires money
• Purchases goods
• Uses services
• Uses the victim's credit
• Causes financial loss
• Commits fraud (that is at least a Class A misdemeanor)
This offense is charged as a Class A misdemeanor.
In the second-degree level, the offender will do the same aforementioned
actions; yet, the financial damage is slightly higher. He or she will
acquire money, use services, purchase goods, use another's credit,
cause financial lost or obtain property in an amount specifically over
$500. To be liable for the crime in the second degree, the offender can
also do one of the following
• Execute, attempt to commit or act as an accessory to a crime that
is a felony
• Execute third-degree identity theft with a prior conviction for
identity theft or larceny
This is a Class E felony.
Finally, first-degree identity theft is chargeable if a person commits
the aforementioned forms of identity theft; yet, this crime involves financial
defrauding in amounts over two grand. The offense is also applicable when
the offender commits, attempts to execute or serves as an accessory to
a Class D felony or more. Moreover, if a person commits second-degree
identity theft and has a previous conviction for a similar crime or larceny,
he or she could be liable for a charge in the first degree. This charge
in the first degree is deemed a Class D charge.
Illegal use of a credit card or debit card: A white-collar crime can also involve the illegal use a credit or debit
card. A suspect can be convicted of this crime if he or she uses another's
credit or debit card. This can also occur when one knowingly uses a card,
which has been cancelled or revoked, to obtain items or services. This
crime, which is quite common, is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.
Scheme to defraud: A defrauding scheme is another white-collar offense in New York. A person
can be guilty of this second-degree crime if he or she participates in
a system that is methodical and continuous and aims to deceive another
or aims to receive property from one or more individuals (and successfully
does) through illegal, fraudulent measures. A scheme to defraud is a Class
An individual can be guilty of this first-degree charge if he or she engages
in an ongoing plan to illegally deceive at least ten people or to unlawfully
take property from at least ten people (and successfully does). A person
can be liable for a first-degree offense if he or she commits a method
to defraud in the second degree, and the worth of the property in question
is more than one grand or the fraud was executed against a defenseless
person. This first-degree crime is deemed a Class E felony. There are
other similar offenses related to this charge.
Forging company records: Forging or falsifying business records is common in the corporate world.
This offense has two levels. It is considered a second-degree offense
when a person does any one of the following:
- Makes a forged or fake entry in company records "with the intent to
• Transforms, deletes or removes a company record "with the intent
• Omits an entry in a company record "with the intent to defraud"
• Prevents the documentation of a business record "with the intent
Falsifying business records in the second degree is punishable as a Class
A misdemeanor. The offense in the first degree is similar, but it is when
a person additionally tries to commit, help or cover up a crime. This
is a Class E charge.
Criminal possession of a forged instrument: Another common white-collar crime involves a person who unlawfully possesses
a fake or forged instrument. In the third degree, this is when a person
knows that the instrument is not real and plans to deceive or harm another
with the invalid instrument. This is a Class A misdemeanor. A second-degree
version of this same offense occurs with one or more of the following:
• A legal agreement
• A medical prescription
• Certificates or notes in place of tangible money
• Commercial instrument
• Credit card
• A public record
• A deed
• An instrument created or issued by a public authority
This offense is punishable as a Class D felony. A first-degree offense
involves the same contents as first-degree forgery, such as bonds or stocks.
This crime is punishable as a Class C felony.
These seven offenses make up the most basic white-collar crime charges
in New York. Yet, it is imperative to recognize that some criminal actions
ignite federal repercussions. Moreover, depending on the assigned Class
or level of the charge, the offender will face particular consequences.
Therefore, it is helpful to gain a better breakdown of charges. This is
especially true because many of these charges overlap and blend.
According to the FBI, the term "white-collar crime" was reportedly
coined in 1939. Despite the glorified definition as expressed by big motion pictures,
the epithet generally describes financially motivated crime that does
not involve violence. Moreover, business and government professionals
often execute this category of criminal activity. To learn more about
state or federal white-collar charges and associated penalties, speak
with a legal professional in New York.