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Criminal Treatment Based on Social StandingTerm Paper

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White Collar Crime

The author of this report has been asked to offer a brief report that summarizes the definition of white collar crime as studied and summarized by Edwin Sutherland. There were two distinct elements that made up the foundation of Sutherland's definition. This definition shall be applied to consumer fraud, environmental crime, religious fraud and corporate fraud. There will be an example of each for the four categories just listed. There will also be a discussion of the costs associated with each of the examples given. While white collar crime is generally not associated with brutality and death, there are sometimes instances of people actually being hurt and the toll on people can be seismic even when no such physical trauma is present.

Analysis

Not only has Mr. Sutherland been a main speaker and analyst when it comes to the subject of white collar crime, he is also the person who actually came up with the term in the first place. Further, Sutherland's viewpoints on white collar crime were quite fresh and new when they came about. One cornerstone of Sutherland's viewpoints was that he did not agree that there was a presumption of innocence or a need to prove criminal intent when it came to white collar crimes. Also, he asserted that the notion of white collar crime should be considered using the sociological nature and motives for the crime rather than the other details. To use specific examples, one can use the same examples that the Heritage Foundation used. What Dennis Kozlowski did during his tenure at Tyco was illegal. A grandmother buying prescription drugs from Canada or Mexico is also illegal. However, the chances that the latter would be ever be charged is next to none and anyone watching the news knows that Kozlowski had the proverbial book thrown at him. In other words, the social, monetary and resource status of the person involved ostensibly has a bearing on whether a person is pursued and otherwise faces charges in the United States. This is deemed by many to be a fairly socialist way of prosecuting (or not prosecuting) people as both parties involved have obviously and unquestionably broken the law. Even with the obviously duplicity involved in making such choices, many people tend to agree with the "little guy" being left alone and the "fat cat" getting thrown to the proverbial wolves. Even with that, the common refrains of mens rea (criminal intent) and presumption of innocence being absence goes against the grain when it comes to the cornerstones of American criminal law, not to mention that of other countries (Heritage, 2015).

As far as real-world examples of several types of crime and how they would be handled based on Sutherland's definitions and perceptions about American society and the law, the author of this report can offer a couple. For example, if an American corporation engages in consumer fraud such as offering a warranty and then reneging or something along those lines, the corporation itself and the decision-makers of the same will tend to face some rather nasty consequences because they are in a position of wealth and power and they are taking advantage of consumers who are typically much less wealthy and can often be impoverished or otherwise disadvantaged. One could say that the Ford Motor Company putting out the Ford Pinto, a car they knew to be unsafe, without telling the consumers about the fuel tank issues with the car was fraud. It was also a case where people actually did die over the actions of the people involved (Wojdyla & Limer, 2011). On the other hand, a private citizen that lies about a product being sold on eBay will almost certainly not be charged. The worst that would probably happen is that eBay would require a refund and the police would almost certainly not get involved.

As for environment crimes, one could point to the electricity company that was the subject of the movie Erin Brockovich. It was found that the cancer rates in the area of operation for Pacific Gas & Electric were causing higher cancer rates. This was eventually traced back to PG&E and they had to pay a fat legal settlement for what they did (Esquivel, 2015). On the other hand, a private citizen that dumps trash in an authorized spot would, at a maximum, face a criminal citation for a nominal amount and that is about it. When it comes to religious fraud, a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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