Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Business/Corporation Involvement in White Collar Crime

Many people -- even many people in high positions in business -- aren’t aware that corporations can actually be charged with offenses, just like individual people committing crimes. Criminal lawyers often have to defend businesses, both against civil suits and against criminal suits, although the crimes that each individual person within the business committed, may not have made a large impact by themselves. Today we look at when and why a corporation can be charged with a crime.
What types of charges can be brought against businesses?
Companies and organisaitons can have either criminal or civil charges laid against them. Some examples of common suits that are brought against corporations including violating antitrust laws, engaging in racketeering, failing to keep required records, violating employment law, etc. These civil suits are the most common ones handled by Florida defense lawyers.
However, if the managers of a business are seen to be exceptionally indifferent to the criminal activities of its staff, or to condone them in any way, criminal charges may be brought against the business itself.
How can a business avoid criminal or civil charges?
This question is quite simple for most private citizens -- simply avoid doing anything that you know is illegal, and check on the legality of any new activities you engage in. For a business, it is not so simple. The culpability of a company in a criminal activity or a civil suit depends on what its employees do. Broadly speaking, a business must monitor for illegal activity, respond to allegations or suspicions about it, and cooperate with investigations.
Here are some tips for businesses looking to ensure they don't need their own criminal lawyer for the activities of their employees:
  • Monitor - Monitor all appropriate records -- conduct internal audits of any records that have a legal ramification. For example, financial records, occupational health and safety records, etc, should all be checked internally to uncover problems before the law does.
  • Implement - Appropriate compliance and regulatory mechanisms in a business. Obviously the specific nature of these will vary vastly, but a criminal lawyer or business consultant can help determine them.
  • Listen - for any rumors ore reports of illegal activities by employees and investigate them appropriately. In many cases, managers tend to take a 'not my problem' attitude to reports of criminal wrongdoings by staff. They don't realize the impact it can have on the business itself.
Co-operate - with any investigations by the law that the business didn’t know about beforehand. Further charges could be laid on the business itself if police and prosecutors don't get easy access to required evidence for an individual trial.

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