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The motivations behind white-collar crimes

White-collar crimes are prevalent across mainstream media and newspaper headlines with powerful figures being accused of stealing millions of dollars from either innocent people or large-scaled companies.

With white-collar crimes, there are specific requirements that prosecutors need to prove to show that an individual intended to commit these crimes. This could potentially allow for individuals to build a defense against these allegations. Here, we wanted to look at some of the various reasons that people give when accused of these crimes, as it can help when building a defense.

According to the FBI, people resort to white-collar crimes based on the following factors:

  • Poorly-designed job incentives – Employees feel pressure to perform their jobs at the highest quality in the shortest amount of time. They may even feel incentivized to cross professional lines in order to maximize their profits.
  • Poorly-communicated job ethics – Most corporations include an ethics seminar or clear guidelines around workplace ethics. However, some companies do not provide ethics training or offer morally-grey advice about approaching ethics in the office, which can place employees in a no-win situation.
  • A false perception of a “victimless crime” – While most white-collar crimes are nonviolent, it does not make them victimless. Some actions cause significant harm to companies or individual people. But if someone believes it is harmless, they may be more enticed to commit those crimes.
  • Aggressive goals – Whether it’s corporate or personal goals, some people will do whatever it takes to meet certain benchmarks. And in the case of white-collar criminals, they use unethical behavior to attain their goals.
  • Disregard for the rules overall – As the saying goes, some people believe that the rules don’t apply to them. They may act in a way that either downplays or disregards rules entirely for themselves.
  • Motivated blindness – Some employees will turn a blind eye to unethical behaviors to continue a specific level of motivation to make more money for themselves or a business.

While money may be a strong factor in a crime, it may not show why a person has committed an illegal act. It’s important to take a close look at all of the elements of a crime to determine how best to prepare a defense against those specific charges.

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