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The term white collar crime comes from an American sociologist named Edwin Sutherland. He first used the term to describe a study of 70 major American companies and to convey the idea that well-respected, educated and upstanding people in society can still commit crimes.


White collar crime is not officially listed in the Canadian Criminal Code, but the term generally refers to criminal activity that a person commits in the course of their occupation against a business or an organization such as the government. It includes crimes committed by those in the financial or corporate world who are generally considered well-respected members of society and well respected in the community.

While there is no physical harm done to the victim in white collar crime, it can do a great deal of damage, including destroying the victim’s life savings, and it has a substantial impact on the lives of those affected.

Examples of White Collar Crime

When we hear the words white collar crime, we generally think about corporate fraud or criminal embezzlement. Still, it can also include crimes such as fixing the price of goods and services, paying bribes or kickbacks, misleading advertising, dumping pollutants or money laundering, types of fraud and tax evasion.


In 2011, Canada introduced the Standing up for Victims of White Collar Crime Act. Its purpose is to bring in harsher penalties for white collar crime that shows it is taken seriously by the courts. Other changes in the act include:

  • Provide a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for a term of two years for fraud with a value that exceeds $1 million;
  • Provide additional aggravating factors for sentencing;
  • Create a discretionary prohibition order for offenders convicted of fraud to prevent them from having authority over the money or real property of others;
  • Require consideration of restitution for victims of fraud; and
  • Clarify that the sentencing court may consider community impact statements from a community that has been harmed by the fraud.

The act requires judges to consider a restitution order in sentencing so that offenders must repay their victims. It also does not allow judges to consider the social standing of the offender, their job history or their reputation in the community if any of these were used to commit the criminal activity.


The maximum penalty for fraud is fourteen years imprisonment with a minimum sentence of 2 years if the amount of fraud is over 1 million dollars. White collar criminals can face charges of fraud over $5000 can no longer be conditional sentences allowing the offender to serve time in the community.

Judges must also consider the following aggravating factors in the case when considering sentencing, including the complexity and magnitude of the case, the number of victims, the financial impact on victims and if the offender used their status to take advantage of victims. If documents were destroyed or concealed or the offender went against professional standards will also be considered.

If you have been charged with criminal fraud charges, it is a serious situation, and you need the help of an experienced corporate criminal lawyer to help you get the best outcome for your case. William Jaksa has over ten years of experience as a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto. He has experience defending clients in cases of white collar crime and corporate crime and can help advise your case. Contact William Jaksa for a consultation today.

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