A federal crime is a violation of a statute passed by the United States Congress. A state crime is a violation of a statute or ordinance passed by the state legislature or a local authority. Usually the federal crime addresses criminal activity or a more national concern. Although, in recent decades the federal government has become increasingly involved in prosecuting drug and violent crimes, areas once left almost exclusively to the states. Many crimes are prosecutable in both state and federal courts.

White-collar crime is a broad term that covers a variety of nonviolent crimes that are alleged to involve cheating in one form or another. Examples of white-collar crime include allegations of fraud in its various forms, bribery, insider trading, environmental crime, embezzlement, forgery, tax evasion, kickbacks, and money laundering. According to the FBI, white-collar crimes total more than $300 billion annually.

Edwin H. Sutherland, a noted sociologist, first coined the term “white-collar crime” in 1939 in a speech he gave before the American Sociological Association. Sutherland later defined white-collar crime as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.”

The most salient difference between white-collar and blue-collar crime is the means by which offenses are carried out. Blue-collar crimes most often involve physical force; white collar crimes, on the other hand, are inherently technical in nature, often involving the manipulation of information either on paper or electronically.

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