CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, August 8, 2011

Green & Kugler on Public Perceptions of White Collar Crime Culpability

GREEN,-STUART Stuart P. Green (pictured) and Matthew B. Kugler (Rutgers Law School-Newark and Lehigh University) have posted Public Perceptions of White Collar Crime Culpability: Drawing Lines Amid Moral Ambiguity (Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 74, No. 4, 2011) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Although we are accustomed to thinking of “crime” as involving the most unambiguously blameworthy sorts of conduct in which citizens can engage, the reality is more complex, especially when we look at certain kinds of “white collar” behavior. In this set of empirical studies, participants were asked to assess a series of scenarios that presented potentially criminal white collar behavior. Lay persons made fairly fine-grained distinctions when deciding which behaviors they thought worthy of criminalization. In some cases, the distinctions made by respondents were consistent with current law. For example, in the case of fraud, participants distinguished between misrepresentations that went to the heart of the bargain and misrepresentations that were extraneous. In other cases, however, there were significant divergences between lay subjects’ views and current law. In the case of perjury, for example, participants drew a weaker distinction between lying in court under oath and lying to police while not under oath, and between literally false statements and literally true but misleading statements, than does the law. There are also divergences with respect to bribery: respondents sought to criminalize both commercial bribery and payments accepted by an office-holder in return for performing a non-official act, while American federal law criminalizes neither.

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I am currently studying the English language and plan to graduate with a Bachelors in about 2 years. I'm interested in becoming a criminal lawyer, and I'm wondering what kinds of tips you have for me? What is the best course of action?

Posted by: Leslie Love | Aug 9, 2011 7:37:11 AM

This was so interesting! I think the author had it exactly right when he said that "criminals" aren't always who we think they are. There are a lot of gray areas when it comes to criminal behavior. It's just not black and white; it's not "this guy is good" and "this guy is a criminal." I think lawyers understand more than most people, especially criminal lawyers.

Posted by: Keely Lawyer | Dec 2, 2011 10:14:42 AM

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