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White Collar Crimes &
Aggravated White Collar Crime Enhancement

White collar crimes are non-violent crimes generally committed by business or government professionals. The term white collar crime was first used in 1939 by a famous criminologist named Edwin Sutherland when he described non-violent crimes committed by socialites.

White collar crimes include insurance fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, credit card fraud, check fraud, counterfeiting, identity theft, forgery, wire fraud, mortgage fraud, securities fraud, insider trading, health care fraud, tax evasion, bribery, misuse of public funds, welfare fraudand extortion.


The punishment associated with white collar crimes depends on which white collar crime is charged along with any enhancements or aggravated factors that are added per PC 186.10 or 186.11. For example, the crime of misuse of public funds carries a maximum three year jail sentence, but the district attorney can add enhanced charges that can greatly increase the defendant's jail sentence exposure.

Enhancements to white collar crimes are charged where the amount of loss to the victim is a high dollar amount. For example, PC 186.10 is an enhancement to a white collar crime where the amount of loss to the victim exceeds $5,000. Other enhancements to white collar crimes include:

  • PC 186.10(c)(1)(A): Loss to victim is between $50,000 and $150,000 in money laundering cases. 1 year incarceration added to underlying crime.

  • PC 186.10(c)(1)(B): loss to victim is between $150,000 and $1,000,000 in money laundering cases. 2 years incarceration added to underlying crime.

  • PC 186.10(c)(1)(C): Loss to victim is between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000 in money laundering cases. 3 years incarceration added to underlying crime.

  • PC 186.11(a)(2): Loss to victim is under five hundred thousand dollars. Up to 5 years incarceration added to underlying crime. 

  • PC 186.11(a)(3): Loss to victim is between $100,000 and $200,000. 1 year incarceration added to underlying crime.

Aggravated White Collar Crimes: White collar crimes may be aggravated to increase the punishment. To prove that a white collar crime is an aggravated white collar crime the district attorney will need to prove all of the following:

  • The defendant committed two or more white collar crime (listed above)

  • Fraud or embezzlement was a material element to the crimes charged

  • The related felonies involved a pattern or related felony conduct, and

  • The pattern of related felony conduct resulted in the loss by another person of a certain amount of money

Note: Probation (without jail or prison) may be available in some cases of white-collar crimes. If the defendant is not granted a probation sentence, he or she might nevertheless be allowed to split a jail sentence (serve some part of the jail sentence out of custody on work release), or suspend the jail sentence (not serve a jail sentence at all unless the defendant violates a term of his or her out of jail sentence). Whether or not a probation sentence, a split sentence, or a suspended jail sentence is available depends on the many factors, including the defendant's criminal history , the facts of the case, the presence of any enhancements, and the underlying crime alleged to have been committed.

Three Strikes Law: Most white-collar crimes are theft type crimes and are not considered strike offenses under California's Three Strikes Law. The exception could be where a person is directly injured as a result of the defendant's conduct.

CIMT: Most white-collar crimes are considered crimes involving moral turpitude, which means the crimes involve deceit or are otherwise considered to be inherently and morally wrong. Crimes involving moral turpitude will likely carry negative consequences related to a defendant's professional license (i.e. doctor dentist, lawyers, etc.), and /or immigration status.

Additional penalties for white collar crimes depends on the crime, but just about every white collar crime will include the following punishments: fines and court fees, restitution to the victim (or government), denial of entry into the armed forces, loss of the right to own a firearm (for felony convictions), and more.

Defenses: Each white collar crime is different in terms of what elements the district attorney needs to prove to find the defendant guilty; therefore, each white collar crime has a different set of commonly related defenses. With that said, perhaps the most common defenses to a white collar crime include insufficient evidence, mistake of fact, and coerced confessions, but other defenses may apply. See Defenses for more information.


If you or a loved one is charged with a white-collar crime, or PC 186.10, 186.11, contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation.


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