Interviewer: When I hear the term blue collar versus white collar crimes what is a white collar crime and what is a blue collar crime?
Paul Tafelski: Typically white collar crime is considered things where someone steals money but not by using force or threats. It’s by committing fraud or a scam. For example, if a doctor is accused of medicare fraud where he submitted false billings to medicare and received money from the government for medicare for services that weren’t provided, that would be white collar crime because even though it’s considered stealing and therefore a crime nobody was injured, nobody was threatened, no use of force was involved. Whereas, in your typical robbery the defendant walks up to the person and points a gun at them and says “give me your money.” That’s considered a whole different class of crime.
Interviewer: Do you defend white collar crimes?
Paul: Oh yeah, absolutely. The elements of the crime end up being very similar but for the force. Ultimately the same principals, the same constitutional rights, the same protections and the same burden of proof are involved in a white collar crime as in a more normal standard crime.
Interviewer: I see. What about an embezzlement, is that considered white collar then?
Paul Tafelski: Yeah, that’s another good example.