Common defenses for white collar crimes concept image.

Criminal acts aren’t always violent — some involve the use of fraud and deception, rather than physical force. Commonly referred to as “white collar crimes,” these types of offenses are just as serious as violent crimes and can come with lengthy jail sentences, fines, and other penalties. If you’ve been accused of a white collar crime, it’s essential to have a skillful criminal defense attorney by your side who can build a strategic defense and fight the charges against you.

What is a White Collar Crime?

A white collar crime is one that is carried out using fraud for a financial gain or business advantage. Also referred to as “financial crimes,” they are often characterized by deceit, concealment, or a violation of trust — instead of violence. There are a wide variety of white collar crimes, ranging from mortgage fraud to bank fraud, healthcare fraud, pyramid schemes, and public corruption.

Other examples of white collar crimes can include the following:

  • Tax evasion
  • Insurance fraud
  • Securities fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Corporate fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Insider trading
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Insurance fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Wire fraud
  • Counterfeiting

Depending on the nature of the offense, a white collar crime can be investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and state agencies. While most white collar crimes are heard in federal court, some can be prosecuted by state authorities. Regardless of where the criminal proceedings will be brought, there are a number of white collar crime defense strategies that can be used to reduce the charges, get the charges dismissed, or obtain an acquittal.

White Collar Crime Defenses

White collar crimes are prosecuted just like any other type of crime — and a defendant’s guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Significantly, unless there was direct evidence that a white collar crime was committed, much of the evidence against a defendant in a white collar case may be circumstantial. This type of evidence does not prove a fact on its face, but it requires a jury to draw an inference about what the evidence shows.

A knowledgeable defense attorney may implement the following white collar defense strategies, based on the evidence and circumstances of the case:


Entrapment occurs when the government uses tactics to coerce, persuade, or induce someone into committing a crime they wouldn’t ordinarily commit. Entrapment is an affirmative defense, which means the defendant has the burden of proving their defense by a preponderance of the evidence. When this defense is raised, the defendant must establish that they only committed the crime because law enforcement acted in a coercive manner.

Fourth Amendment Violation

One of the most common white collar crime defenses is asserting a Fourth Amendment violation. Critically, the Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures. If evidence was not obtained legally and a defendant’s Constitutional rights were violated, it cannot be used in the criminal proceeding.


The white collar crime defense of duress can be used in cases where a defendant was physically or verbally threatened into committing the offense. For instance, if the defendant had a reasonable fear that a threat would be carried out against them or their family, and they would not have committed the crime otherwise, a viable defense may exist.

Lack of Intent

Intent is a critical element in a white collar crime. The prosecution must be able to prove that 1) the defendant engaged in an illegal act and 2) had the intent to knowingly undertake the prohibited action. If the prosecution cannot show that the defendant had the requisite intent to commit the crime, the case must be dismissed.


In the event a defendant was involuntarily intoxicated by drugs or alcohol at the time the crime was carried out, they may be able to raise the affirmative defense of intoxication. For instance, if the defendant was drugged and could not form the intent required to commit the crime, a valid defense can be argued.


In certain cases, a defendant may be able to argue that they should not be held responsible for their criminal conduct because they had a mental defect at the time the crime was committed. However, when the “insanity defense” is successfully used, a defendant can still face criminal penalties and be required to serve their sentence in a mental health facility.

Statute of Limitations

The government does not have an indefinite amount of time in which to prosecute a white collar crime — each offense comes with a statute of limitations. This is the timeframe in which the prosecution must bring charges against a defendant. The clock begins ticking once the criminal conduct has been completed. Importantly, if the government fails to bring a case before the statute of limitations expires, they will be barred from prosecuting the defendant for the crime.

Contact an Experienced Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been charged with a white collar crime or are being investigated for one, it’s vital to have reliable representation to fight for your rights. With offices in Tulsa and Claremore, Titus Hillis Reynolds Love provides strategic defense to clients who have been accused of white collar crimes throughout Oklahoma and are committed to securing the best possible results in every case. Contact us online or call (918) 216-0892 to schedule a consultation.

Categories: Criminal Defense