PROSECUTION AND SENTENCING OF WHITE COLLAR CRIME IN FEDERAL COURT: UNDERSTANDING PATHS AND PROCESSES
Galvin, Miranda A
Simpson, Sally S
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The question of whether ‘white collar’ crimes are treated more leniently by society dates to the first use of the phrase by Edwin Sutherland in 1939. One of the most important ways in which this leniency may manifest is in the criminal prosecution and sentencing of violations of law. And yet, the question of whether and how white collar cases are treated differently than other types of crimes has not received sufficient attention. Prior research findings have been clouded by inconsistent effects and inconsistent definitions of white collar crime and may have limited generalizability under modern sentencing regimes. This dissertation reconsiders the question of white collar leniency for a sample of white collar and comparable crimes referred for federal criminal prosecution between 2009-2011 and followed through 2013 using the Federal Justice Statistics Program. Specifically, this research considers how case complexity affects the likelihood of plea bargains, and how these bargains in turn affect sentencing outcomes. Additionally, this dissertation explores whether white collar cases receive more lenient sentencing outcomes, and the effect that different definitions have on substantive conclusions.