White Collar Criminal Law Explained

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great insight into many criminal cases in the news Also provides a great look at how the legal system works.
Date published: 2020-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Relevant Information in our Global Society In addition to my vast collection of Great Courses, I am also an avid user of The Great Courses Plus. As such, I can quickly access the newest courses as soon as they are released . When this particular course came out, I was actually off, and had a bit of a drive ahead of me. This White Collar Crime course popped up on my feed. After viewing the preview, I decided to begin listening to this course. From the beginning, I was captivated by not only the subject and content matter, but also by Professor Eliason's presentation. His clear enunciation, and enthusiasm for the material impressed me at the outset. I feel that the choice of Mr. Eliason was perfect, based on his experience as a former federal prosecutor, in Washington DC. He is also a law school professor, and I kept thinking about how fortunate his students are to have such an excellent instructor. A few days later, I put on lectures 3 and 4 on about the Federal Grand Jury. My wife is a paralegal, serving a firm that deals with complex commercial litigation. She, too, was immediately captivated by the content, and the presentation of Professor Eliason. I might also point out , that although this is a video course, that has excellent graphics and materials, we did most of our participation in the lectures by listening to the streaming on my smartphone. This indicates how we much we were captivated by the material and the presentation. The many examples that Mr. Eliason uses really help one understand, and relate back to the material being discussed. His choice of examples include not only current ones that have unfolded in the past few years, but also key examples of white collar crime in the past. Obviously, the field evolved over time, and like law itself, has become better defined, as various cases have been rules upon, by the courts. Before taking this course, I really did not have a clue as to what "Money Laundering" was all about. Now, thanks to the two lectures devoted to the subject, not only do I understand how it comes into play in our country, but in addition, (largely due to the globilzation phenomenon) how this crime is committed across our borders. Another take away from the course, although not specifically emphasized, is how one should approach the authority, if federal agents ever knock on our door to ask questions, even if the questions are about a neighbor, and their activities. Professor Eliason uses many hypothetical examples and scenarios about the topics being discussed. We found lecture 23 especially interesting. Since the instructor has mostly served as a prosecutor in Federal White Collar cases, he sits down with a professional defense lawyer. His guest for that session is Michael Levy, who not only defends White Collar cases in Washington DC, but has also been a prosecutor. Sometimes, these sit-down discussions can be a little 'dry' arguably , compared to the rest of the other lectures. For me, that was NOT true here: I learned a lot listening to these two lawyers talk about both sides , how they attempt to prepare their clients, the way in which they do the discovery on the cases, etc. Finally, Lecture 24 was extremely informative, and eye opening. The professor covers the Federal guidelines for the sentencing of the various White Collar crimes. The graphics are very helpful and enlightening for this lecture. I would recommend, however, if one is really interested in seeing these details, view this lecture on a regular computer screen, rather than on a smart phone. I will conclude by saying that this course is a great addition to The Great Courses catalog. Since my wife and I are at polar opposite sides of knowledge in the legal world, we both came away with much knowledge. The course also fits in perfectly with the other legal courses that have been added in the past few years. THANK YOU, the Great Courses, and to Professor Eliason for this excellent course!
Date published: 2020-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! This is an excellent course. It's relevant, interesting and very current. The professor communicates very clearly.
Date published: 2020-09-22
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White Collar Criminal Law Explained
Course Trailer
Defining White collar Crime
1: Defining White collar Crime

There’s no section in the US criminal code captioned “white collar crimes.” So what, exactly, is a white collar crime? What sets white collar apart from other areas of criminal law? Why do these crimes—and the criminals who commit them—captivate the public? In this lecture, establish a solid legal framework for the lessons ahead.

33 min
Anatomy of a Federal White Collar Case
2: Anatomy of a Federal White Collar Case

In this lesson, study the federal prosecution of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, as a window into how a federal white collar case works its way through the criminal justice system. Topics include the structure of the federal courts and Department of Justice and the critical role of federal prosecutors.

32 min
The Power of the Federal Grand Jury
3: The Power of the Federal Grand Jury

The federal grand jury has tremendous power in the US justice system—yet for many of us, the grand jury process remains shrouded in mystery. In the first of two lessons on what a federal grand jury is and how it operates, Professor Eliason pulls back the curtain and reveals the inner workings of this important institution.

30 min
Grand Jury Procedure and Search Warrants
4: Grand Jury Procedure and Search Warrants

Continue your look at federal grand juries by considering one of their most distinctive features: secrecy. Along the way, consider why a good federal prosecutor should disclose exculpatory information to a grand jury; what information qualifies as protected grand jury material; and the importance (and practical limitations) of another investigative tool, search warrants.

30 min
Mail and Wire Fraud and the Nature of Fraud
5: Mail and Wire Fraud and the Nature of Fraud

Two of the most popular statutes that federal prosecutors of white collar crime have at their disposal are mail and wire fraud. After considering the relatively straightforward elements of mail and wire fraud, turn to the heart of both crimes: the scheme or artifice to defraud.

29 min
The Limits of Mail and Wire Fraud
6: The Limits of Mail and Wire Fraud

One area that defines the outer boundaries of mail and wire fraud involves the definition of “property.” After examining Supreme Court cases that sought to answer the question of what qualifies as property, focus on the “in furtherance” requirement and its role in the landmark 1989 case of Schmuck v. United States.

30 min
Honest Services Fraud and Its Evolution
7: Honest Services Fraud and Its Evolution

In an honest services fraud case, there’s no need to show that victims suffered a monetary loss; instead, a prosecutor has to show they were deprived of their intangible right to honest services. As you explore the evolution of this criminal theory, learn why its most common use is to prosecute political corruption.

32 min
Conspiracy: A Partnership in Crime
8: Conspiracy: A Partnership in Crime

Conspiracy is one of the most common types of federal crimes charged. Professor Eliason reveals the benefits of a conspiracy charge for the prosecution, the reasons why we prosecute conspiracy, the elements of a conspiracy charge, and the two prongs of the primary federal conspiracy statute: 18 U.S.C. section 371.

29 min
Common Issues in Conspiracy Cases
9: Common Issues in Conspiracy Cases

In this lesson, consider the elements of a criminal conspiracy in greater detail. Central to the discussion are common issues that arise in conspiracy cases, including proving the agreement, proving the scope of the conspiracy, the “overt act” requirement, and the possibility of withdrawing from a conspiracy.

29 min
Public Corruption: Bribery and Gratuities
10: Public Corruption: Bribery and Gratuities

Bribery is the quintessential public corruption offense: a public official who accepts something of personal value to be influenced in the performance of some official act. After discussing bribery and the related offense of gratuities, Professor Eliason also covers two major Supreme Court decisions that dramatically limited the scope of these statutes.

31 min
Extortion by Public Officials
11: Extortion by Public Officials

The Hobbs Act defines extortion as the “obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.” What elements of extortion must prosecutors prove beyond a reasonable doubt? And why is the phrase “under color of official right” so controversial?

29 min
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
12: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

One of our most important laws for fighting corruption overseas was born in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. In this lesson, unpack the importance of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the basis of prosecutions (sometimes of non-US companies) that have resulted in some of the largest financial settlements in US history.

31 min
Securities Fraud and Insider Trading
13: Securities Fraud and Insider Trading

To many people, insider trading is the textbook example of a white collar crime. Go inside the somewhat controversial legal theories involved in these prosecutions, which seek to maintain investor confidence in the securities market and establish (and maintain) a somewhat level playing field for investors.

32 min
Perjury and the Law of Cover-Up Crimes
14: Perjury and the Law of Cover-Up Crimes

In the first of several lessons on “cover-up crimes” (crimes committed to conceal other misconduct), examine the topic of perjury, or lying under oath. Unpack the two principal federal perjury statutes; learn the elements required to prove a charge of perjury; and consider the role ambiguity plays in perjury cases.

32 min
False Statements and Concealment
15: False Statements and Concealment

When you lie to the federal government, it’s not just wrong—it could land you in prison. Learn why charges of giving false statements are extremely common in white collar cases; analyze the breadth and simplicity of the federal false statements statute; and explore how this charge can help the government prove criminal intent or guilty knowledge.

29 min
Obstruction of Justice
16: Obstruction of Justice

Obstruction of justice covers a wide variety of misconduct, including tampering with witnesses, threatening jurors, and destroying evidence. After examining the primary obstruction of justice statutes, probe leading Supreme Court cases dealing with this white collar crime, including United States v. Aguilar and Arthur Andersen LLP v. United States.

33 min
Money Laundering Basics
17: Money Laundering Basics

Prosecuting money laundering continues to be a major priority for the Department of Justice. In the first of two lectures on this crime, examine the elements of domestic money laundering, then explore them in the context of two early cases: United States v. Jackson and United States v. Campbell.

32 min
Laundering Money across the US Border
18: Laundering Money across the US Border

Turn now to the international money laundering statute, 18 U.S.C. section 1956(a)(2), which requires that the funds in question be transported across the US border. One area of international money laundering you’ll investigate is cash purchases of US real estate by corrupt foreign officials—a primary laundering vehicle.

31 min
Conspiracy on Steroids: The RICO Statute
19: Conspiracy on Steroids: The RICO Statute

When Congress passed the RICO statute—short for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act—it primarily had organized crime in mind. First, see the benefits and drawbacks of the statute through the eyes of a white collar prosecutor. Then, better understand the specific elements of a RICO charge.

32 min
Hacking and Other Computer Crimes
20: Hacking and Other Computer Crimes

In our increasingly digital age, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is a powerful tool for federal prosecutors to combat cyberattacks against individuals, organizations, and even the entire country. Review the seven different sections of the CFAA, each of which applies to a different type of computer crime and comes with different requirements.

33 min
Corporate Criminal Liability
21: Corporate Criminal Liability

Today, many legal experts question the rationale for corporate criminal liability, and some even suggest it should be abolished altogether. How did a Supreme Court case over 100 years old set the standards that still govern corporate criminal liability today? And why is there a growing reluctance to indict and prosecute companies for criminal activity?

31 min
Plea Bargains and Immunity Deals
22: Plea Bargains and Immunity Deals

Over 95% of all criminal prosecutions, including white collar prosecutions, are resolved short of trial by way of a plea bargain. In this lesson, focus on three tools critical to the white collar prosecutor seeking to build a case involving serious criminal misconduct: plea agreements, cooperation agreements, and immunity deals.

30 min
Defending the White Collar Case
23: Defending the White Collar Case

Professor Eliason sits down with Michael N. Levy for a look at white collar crime from the perspective of a defense lawyer—another critical legal player in any white collar case. It’s a chance for you to eavesdrop on an insightful, extemporaneous Q&A session that will add to your understanding of the nuances of white collar crimes.

35 min
Sentencing White Collar Criminals
24: Sentencing White Collar Criminals

Once guilt is established by a plea or a trial, the last part of the criminal process remains: sentencing. Start by examining the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which help the court fashion an appropriate sentence; then, look at United States v. Booker, the Supreme Court case that turned these guidelines from mandatory to merely advisory.

32 min
Randall D. Eliason

White collar criminal law lies at the intersection of law, business, and politics.


Harvard Law School


The George Washington University Law School

About Randall D. Eliason

Randall D. Eliason is a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School. He received his JD cum laude from Harvard Law School and spent 12 years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. He authors a blog on white collar crime and federal criminal law called Sidebars, and his writings have been published in scholarly journals, legal periodicals, and national newspapers. He is a two-time recipient of the Distinguished Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award at The George Washington University Law School.

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