The Irish Department of Justice and Equality defines organised crime as “as an element of criminal activity carried out by criminal organizations that have as their main purpose the commission of one or more serious offences in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, financial or other material benefits.” When comparing organized crime to white-collar crime it immediately becomes obvious that these areas of crime over lap. One way that white-collar crime differs from organized crime is the organization itself, which can also involve individuals, companies or very ad hoc groups. . While some of the entities that commit white-collar crime are corporations, although there are exceptions, the criminal activity viewed as white-collar crime usually does not involve corporations formed to commit crimes. A criminal organization differs in that the primary focus is on illegal activity and the legitimate activities exist to cover such situations as laundering money and providing cover shops and other locations where criminal activity takes place in a “back room.”
In white-collar crime, the common characteristic is the complexity rather than the volume of the criminal activity. . White-collar crime includes commercial fraud, cheating swindles, insider trading, embezzlement and other dishonest business schemes. . “Lying, cheating, and stealing That’s white-collar crime in a nutshell. The term—reportedly coined in 1939—is now synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals.” . The FBI particularly cites the Enron case as an example of white-collar crime on its web site. . There is a list on the page devoted to white-collar crime that lists out a host of crimes commonly referred to as white-collar. Some of these need to involve criminal enterprises such as financial institution fraud & failures, antitrust and price fixing. Others life health care fraud and insurance fraud are more commonly committed by individuals. In general, the crimes described as white-collar do not include violent crimes and the criminal establishments created to foment these crimes do not engage in violent crime in any portion of their activities.
The FBI page for organized crime points out that Federal and State Criminal Statutes use the term “Criminal Enterprise” rather than organized crime. The Continuing Criminal Enterprise statute identifies a criminal enterprise defines it as “a group of individuals with an identified hierarchy, or comparable structure, engaged in significant criminal activity. These organizations often engage in multiple criminal activities and have extensive supporting networks.” . The FBI further states the primary interest of the organizational structure is to get money illegally. The activities of organized crime are generally titled “Racketeering and fall under the Title 18 of the United States Code known as RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations). RICO §1961 (1) “includes the following federal crimes: Bribery, Sports Bribery, Counterfeiting, Embezzlement of Union Funds, Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, Money Laundering, Obstruction of Justice, Murder for Hire, Drug Trafficking, Prostitution, Sexual Exploitation of Children, Alien Smuggling, Trafficking in Counterfeit Goods, Theft from Interstate Shipment, Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, And the following state crimes: Murder, Kidnapping, Gambling, Arson, Robbery, Bribery, Extortion and Drugs” .
Looking at the list of crimes that fall under the RICO Act it is obvious that many of these are simultaneously considered white-collar crime. The inclusion of Enron Corporation on its web page devoted to white collar crime further complicates the matter. In the United States, there are additional penalties for crimes committed under the terms of RICO when the criminal organization involved can be identified as a criminal enterprise. These criminal enterprises are commonly known as “organized crime.” However, “white collar” and “organized crime” are not included in the lexicon of the United States Statutes. These are popular terms used by the media and the public to describe various different crimes and criminal organizations.
It is also necessary to note that many of the crimes that could be potentially subject to additional penalties under RICO are not necessarily involved with organized crime: counterfeiting and fraud for example only need involve one person, prostitution only two. In instances where there is no criminal organization involved, there can be no allegations of a criminal enterprise. By United States Statutes, white-collar crime can be prosecuted under the auspices of the RICO statutes. The individuals who faced prosecution in regards to the Enron case were also subject to additional charges under the RICO statutes. In matters like this where the entire organization is involved in what is generically termed white-collar crime, it could be considered a sub-category of organized crime. In general, although the effects of either of these types of crimes can be devastating, they are differentiated in that white-collar crime generally does not involve physical violence by any member of the criminal establishment.
Because of this differentiation, the criminals convicted in these matters are generally treated differently both in the media and in terms of their sentences and incarcerations. White-collar criminals, when sentenced to a prison term are usually not housed with the general inmate population; they are imprisoned in lower security facilities. The media also reviles them for their crimes, however does not, and cannot; exploit the bloody shock value of their crimes, there is none. The public as well recognizes this when evaluating the severity of these individuals’ misdeeds. Another factor to be considered is that while murder for hire is a straight forward easily understood crime many of the crimes committed that are termed “white collar crime” are so convoluted so as to be incomprehensible to the general population. As such, there are individuals who might read of these crimes and still not immediately understand exactly what these people did wrong. Criminal enterprises in the United States are generally prosecuted under the RICO statute Tile 18 of the U. S. Code, which covers all “criminal enterprises.” Organized crime in general involves violent and non-violent crimes. While white-collar crime is generally nonviolent and involves crimes that are more fraudulent in nature. Because, the convicts found guilty of white-collar crime are generally non-violent they treated differently while within custody in that they are usually housed differently, placed in lower security facilities, and they also receive comparatively shorter sentences based on the amount of money involved in the criminal activity. The media and the public also recognize the difference between the violent behavior of those enterprises commonly called organized crime and the convoluted schemes hatched by white collar criminals and treat them differently as well.
Farlex. (2012). White Collar Crime. Retrieved 07 26, 2012, from The Free Dictionary: http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/white+collar+crime
Irish Department of Justice and Equality. (2011). Organized and White Collar Crime. Retrieved 07 26, 2012, from Ireland: Department of Justice and Equality: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/WPOC_3rd_Disc_Doc
The FBI. (2012). Organized Crime. Retrieved 07 26, 2012, from The Federal Bureau of Investigation : http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/organizedcrime/glossary
The FBI. (2012). White Corrar Crime. Retrieved 07 26, 2012, from The Federal Bureau of Investigation: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/white_collar/whitecollarcrime