White collar crime is a short-hand description for nonviolent crimes that are committed for financial gain, typically by professionals or those with specialized training, and are committed by means of deception. A white collar crime does not typically involve force or violence, narcotics or organized crime. Examples of white collar crime include securities fraud, bribery, extortion, tax crimes and computer crimes.

In many instances, state prosecutors, federal prosecutors or both prosecute white collar crimes. Different agencies, including the Securities Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of Natural Resources may become involved in the investigation and prosecution depending on the nature of the crime.

Some additional examples of White Collar Crime include:


Antitrust violations occur when competitors conspire to restrain trade or harm competitors. These violations may result in criminal consequences, civil forfeitures and private liability.


These crimes are prosecuted under the Securities Act and/or Sarbanes-Oxley Act. To get a conviction under these statutes, the government must prove that the defendant intentionally engaged in a fraudulent scheme or dishonesty in connection with the sale or purchase of a security. The federal Justice Department prosecutes typically with help from the Securities Exchange Commission.


These crimes include theft of protected information, fraud or causing damage through a computer under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.


The Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Department of Natural Resources investigates potential harm to the environment by corporations and individuals. Federal and state laws create liability for companies and individuals that dump hazardous waste or create water or air pollution.


Federal and state statutes criminalize the giving or receipt of bribes to and from federal and state officials.


This anti-bribery provision criminalizes bribes paid to foreign officials by domestic companies, foreign companies listed on a United States stock exchange and their agents.


This law criminalizes the act of knowingly and intentionally falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact during a government investigation.


The most common types of tax crimes are tax evasion, filing of false tax returns and failing to file a tax return. It is common for tax charges to arise out of an investigation that originally focused on a different type of criminal activity.


To prove money laundering, the government must show that the defendant knew that a financial transaction involved the proceeds of some type of unlawful activity that constitutes a felony under state or federal law. The government must also show a person transacted with the purpose of furthering a felonious act.


Originally, lawmakers enacted this statute to fight organized crime. To get a conviction, the government must prove that a group of people conspired to commit a pattern of criminal acts.

Both individuals and corporations can be held responsible for white collar criminal offenses. Corporations may be held responsible for acts of their employees within the scope of employment. Corporate managers may be strictly liable for their employees as well.

Axley’s Government Investigation and White Collar Crime Team has significant experience handling cases involving:

  • Grand Jury/John Doe Investigations
  • Obstruction of Justice
  • Serious and Complex Felonies
  • Fraud and Embezzlement
  • Computer and Internet Crimes
  • Ethics Violations
  • Government Investigations

White Collar Attorneys

Client Successes

Caucus Scandal/John Doe Proceedings: Immunity
Represented both the director of the Assembly Republican Caucus and the director of the Assembly Democratic Caucus in negotiations with prosecutors from the Dane County District Attorney and the Wisconsin Attorney General offices. Both clients obtained immunity and neither was charged with a crime. Also represented various corporate and individual witnesses during the John Doe proceedings.
Walsh, John
Criminal Defense, White Collar

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