Can companies be held accountable for any wrongdoing? The very short answer is, yes, they can be charged in court. Unfortunately, compared to individual crimes, corporate crimes are meted out penalties that are often mediocre at best. If you were charged with assault and battery, you are looking at prison time and considerable fines. Corporations, on the other hand, and owing to their huge economic machinery, these penalties seem puny.
Corporate Accountability for Crimes
Under the International Criminal Law, a Houston criminal lawyer like DNTrailLaw.com describes corporate crimes as any wrongdoing committed by a business organization, or its management, or any of its employees on the premise that the wrongdoing was done within the context of work.
What are Examples of Corporate Crimes?
There area variety of corporate crimes, a great majority of which can be classified as crimes against either persons or property. The following are just four of the more common corporate crimes.
- Bribery is one of the most common forms of corporate crimes. It involves the offering of money to someone in an effort to influence the individual into making a decision or initiating an action in favor of the person giving the money.
- Embezzlement is technically stealing at the corporate level. Here, fiscal resources that are supposed to go to the company’s coffers or the general public are converted into personal monetary gain or corporate gain, respectively.
- False claims charges are very common particularly in the manufacturing and retail industries. For example, a company may purposely write that it has zero calories in one of its weight loss products. However, the truth is that it does have considerable amount of calories. False advertisements can sometimes fall under the charge of false claims.
- Insider trading can be considered economic sabotage; henceforth, it is considered a crime. Here, someone who has intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of the stock market which the general public do not have access to inadvertently uses this knowledge for personal gains.
One of the major issues prosecutors have about corporate crimes is in the assignment of liability. While strict liability is a must, vicarious liability will often be much more difficult to prove. Nonetheless, since the wrongdoing was done within the context of corporate activities, the company itself must accept some form of accountability.
Corporate crimes, unfortunately, are under-heard in most jurisdictions. This leads a lot of people to believe that money may be at play in most charges that are brought to court.