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What Is the Difference Between State and Federal White-Collar Crimes?

Updated: September 23, 2022
Nicholas G. Gounaris
By Nicholas G. Gounaris

Nicholas G. Gounaris is a skilled trial lawyer and founding partner of Gounaris Abboud law firm. He provides clients of the firm with competent legal representation and focuses his law practice in the areas of DUI Defense, Criminal Defense, Family Law Issues, Federal Criminal Law and Personal Injury cases.

ohio white collar crimes lawyer

If you face charges for a white-collar crime, it is important you understand exactly what is at stake.

While most white-collar crimes are non-violent in nature, that doesn’t mean that they are not taken seriously.

In many cases, those convicted of a white-collar crime face the possibility of a jail sentence.

There are many types of white-collar crimes, many of which can be prosecuted under state or federal law.

In this article, the Dayton, Ohio criminal defense lawyers at Gounaris Abboud, LPA will go over the ins and outs of white-collar crimes. If you have questions, please contact us today, 

What Are White-Collar Crimes?

A white-collar crimes definition isn’t exact. But generally speaking, the term white-collar crime is used to refer to non-violent financial crimes.

The name comes from the fact that, often, those accused of a white-collar crime are executives or high-ranking “white-collar” workers. There are many types of white-collar crimes, including the following.


Embezzlement is when someone misappropriates money or other property that was entrusted to that person. For example, a stockbroker who uses her clients’ money for personal purposes may be committing embezzlement.

Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud involves making a false claim with an insurance company or providing false information.

For example, a doctor who files a claim with an insurance company for a treatment she never provided may be committing insurance fraud.

Money Laundering

Money laundering involves taking illegally obtained money and making it appear as though it came from a legitimate source.

Often, money laundering involves “washing” the money through a cash-heavy business.

Investment Fraud

Investment fraud describes a broad range of white-collar crimes, all of which are intended to bilk investors from their money.

For example, pyramid schemes, Ponzi schemes, advance-fee fraud, and cryptocurrency fraud are all types of investment fraud. These are just a few of the different white-collar crimes; there are many more.

However, as a general rule, a white-collar crime involves a professional person using false or misleading statements to gain access to another’s money or property.

It is very important to understand the type of white-collar crime you face. It is also essential you understand the difference between state and federal white-collar crimes.

Are White-Collar Crimes State of Federal Offenses?

Many types of white-collar crime can be charged in state or federal court. As a general rule, if your conduct allegedly violates state law, state prosecutors will charge you in state court.

However, if your conduct involves an alleged violation of federal law, federal prosecutors will likely charge you in federal court.

In many criminal cases, state and federal prosecutors both have the ability to charge a defendant’s conduct. This happens when a defendant’s actions allegedly violate both state and federal law.

However, state courts handle the vast majority of criminal offenses. That said, white-collar crime ends up in federal court more often than many other types of crime. There are a few reasons for this.


White-collar criminal prosecutions often involve complex financial schemes. It can be very expensive and labor-intensive to investigate these offenses.

The federal government has far more resources than the state government.

Thus, the federal government may pick up a case if it believes the state government lacks the resources to mount an effective prosecution.

Additionally, if a case involves an investigation that spans multiple states, it may be more difficult for a single state prosecutor’s office to bring the charges.

Interstate Activity

The United States Constitution places limits on the types of cases that federal courts can hear.

One of the categories of cases that fall within a federal court’s jurisdiction is those involving actions committed in more than one state.

Many white-collar crimes involve interstate commerce. For example, using the internet, phone lines, or the mail can trigger federal court jurisdiction.


Federal prosecutors are more selective in choosing their cases because there are fewer federal prosecutors than their state counterparts.

However, the federal government tends to focus on those cases that are note-worthy or have very high stakes.

Knowing whether you face white-collar state crimes or federal white-collar crimes is important. It can determine your best defense strategy as well as the punishment you face if convicted.

Thus, it is essential you work with an attorney who is experienced in handling state and federal white-collar crimes.

Are You Facing a White-Collar Criminal Prosecution?

If you face white-collar crimes in state or federal court, it is imperative that you reach out to a dedicated criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

At Gounaris Abboud, LPA, our attorneys handle all types of criminal offenses, including white-collar crimes, theft offenses, drug crimes, and more.

We routinely handle cases in both state and federal court and work with our clients to develop compelling defenses to the charges they face.

We also make ourselves available 24/7 to answer your questions or discuss your case whenever something comes up.

o learn more and to schedule, a free consultation with an Ohio criminal defense lawyer, call us at 937-222-1515. You can also reach us through our online contact form.

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