White-collar crime is a term that was first defined back in 1939 by sociologist Edwin Sutherland. He defined white-collar crime as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of their occupation.” This definition generally still rings true today.

White-collar crimes are typically committed by professionals or other “white collar” workers. White-collar crimes are generally non-violent in nature and are motivated by money. These crimes are mostly committed within an organization or are related to using information illegally to profit from a different organization (think insider trading). Even though these crimes are non-violent, they can still result in severe punishment including prison time, hefty fines, and restitution.

If anyone in your business or organization is facing an investigation for white-collar crime, then you might be at risk for prosecution. Just because the focus of an investigation might currently be on someone else doesn’t mean that it won’t end up on you. Investigators looking to uncover white-collar crime can and will investigate the company you work for from top to bottom. It is important to know that the state of Michigan takes white-collar crime seriously and won’t back down when they suspect wrongdoing.

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Common examples of Michigan white-collar crime include:


  • Bribery involving public officials
  • Misuse of funds
  • Fraud
  • Mortgage Fraud
  • Health Care Fraud
  • Conducting a Criminal Enterprise
  • Embezzlement
  • Money Laundering
  • Forgery
  • Identity Theft
  • Tax Evasion
  • Conspiracy

If you are being investigated or have been charged with one of the above crimes, then it is crucial that you seek the advice of an experienced white-collar crime attorney as soon as possible.

Jail/Prison: A conviction for embezzlement can result in either jail or prison time, depending on the amount of money alleged to have been embezzled. Any amount embezzled over $1,000 is a felony that can result in five years of prison time. A conviction for forgery can result in up to 14 years in prison, while a conviction for conducting a criminal enterprise can result in up to 20 years. As you can see, a judge will have many options in terms of sentence for a white-collar crime conviction.


Probation: Probation is an alternative to jail, and sometimes an additional sentence that comes with a white-collar crime conviction. While on probation, an offender will have to follow certain rules, such as staying alcohol and drug free. He or she will also be assigned a probation agent who will monitor them and make sure they are in compliance with the terms of their probation. Any violations of probation can result in jail or prison sentences.


Restitution: Cases involving white-collar crime often involve large amounts of money. A judge can order an offender to pay back any money that was deprived of a victim due to illegal activity. White-collar crime convictions can easily result in significant dollar amounts in restitution ordered by judges.


Fines: Any conviction for a white-collar crime will likely involve hefty fines. A conviction for conspiracy to conduct a criminal enterprise can result in up to a $100,000 fine, while a conviction for residential mortgage fraud can result in up to a $500,000 fine. It is pretty easy to see how fines for white-collar crime convictions can easily end up in the millions of dollars.


Other: Convictions for white-collar crimes can result in the suspension or revocation of professional licenses such as law, medicine, and accounting. 

For a prosecutor to secure a conviction against someone for a white-collar crime, they have to prove that the crime was intentional. In proving intent, a prosecutor has to demonstrate that you had a criminal intent to actually commit a white-collar crime. What that means is that the prosecutor has to use whatever evidence they have to show that you specifically intended to commit that illegal act.  A common defense is that of mistake. If it is shown that the alleged act was not intentional and/or without a criminal intent, then a jury could properly find you not guilty of a white-collar crime. 


If investigators violated your constitutional rights during the investigation, then you can bring those issues in front of a judge in the form of a motion to suppress to potentially have the evidence against you thrown out. There a variety of potential defenses to white-collar crime and this is not a complete list by any means. A seasoned white-collar crime attorney will look to these and other defenses specific to your case in building your defense if you are accused of illegal activity.

If you or someone you love is facing the possibility of being charged with a white-collar crime, it is natural to have a number of questions. Finding a website like this one can be a great resource, but it is not a substitute for the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you have more questions about white-collar crime, then the attorneys at Oakes Law Group are available to you.


A white-collar crime requires a prosecutor to show that you intended to financially benefit in some illegal way. Was there a genuine, honest mistake in what was going on? Are you able to explain that even though things appear a certain way, there was nothing illegal going on? In order to present your best defense, your attorney has to be able to answer these questions. The only way to answer these and other necessary questions is for your defense to conduct its own investigation. Just as the prosecutor builds a case against you with their resources, you are able to build your defense in the same way.

At Oakes Law Group, we pride ourselves on not limiting your defense to simply be trying to explain the prosecutor’s version of events. We defend cases by going on offense, by advancing your version of events based on our in-depth investigations.


If you are facing a criminal charge for white-collar crime or are being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney immediately. At Oakes Law Group, we are proud to offer FREE consultations to all prospective clients.

If you are in the process of choosing your attorney or are looking for an honest assessment of your legal situation, then our attorneys are available to help you now. Feel free to contact us anytime at 1-888-886-5711 or email. Our advice is free, and our conversations will always be protected by attorney-client privilege. Make your first choice towards freedom with a consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney at Oakes Law Group today.