Corporate crime illegal or harmful acts committed

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Corporate Crime Illegal or harmful acts committed with the support and encouragement of the corporation and intended at least in part to advance the goals of that corporation Crimes by corporate officials Crimes by the corporation itself
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Legal Issues Does it make legal sense to attribute crime to a juristic person? As Sutherland said, corporations do not think or feel, so how can we consider them separately from the people that comprise them? Clearly, they can be subjected to legal processes, but should that make them distinct from natural persons? This is highly debated
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Corporate Action Corporations are said to act through their agents (employees/representatives) It is highly debated who to hold responsible if an agent commits a crime There is precedent for holding the corporation itself responsible as well as the executives for an agents actions Holding the executives responsible is commonly referred to as “piercing the
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Criminal Responsibility A common problem is that natural persons can form mens rea , while juristic persons cannot However, if corporations can act through their agents, it can be reasoned that they can form intent through them Holding the corporation responsible for the acts of its agents is known as vicarious liability
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Evolution of Vicarious Liability Vicarious liability evolved through the civil law No such concept existed in the criminal law In fact, such a concept is contrary to the basic principals of criminal law It was first applied to corporations in 1909 Obviously controversial, imposes liability on shareholders who are innocent
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Evolution of Vicarious Liability Although vicarious liability has been applied in many instances, it is still generally unclear when it should be applied Many argue that it should only apply when the agent acts under direction of the corporation Thus excluding instances when the agents take it upon themselves to break the law Some states adopt this policy while others do not
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Corporate Crime in Historical Context
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Early Corporate Crime Business misconduct became a public concern during the peak of the industrial revolution Late 19 th century Robber Barons had virtual monopolies over many industries and often used less than ethical/legal business practices to maintain control
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New Laws and Agencies In response, these concerns lead to several regulatory efforts, including Sherman Anti-Trust Act (1890) Designed to eliminate monopolistic practices Rarely used until Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency Food and Drug Administration (1906) Control the sale of adulterated food and drugs Also signed into law by Roosevelt
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Studies on White-Collar Crime Sutherland’s (1949) White-Collar Crime was the first comprehensive study of corporate offending Studied the offenses of the 70 largest nonfinancial corporations All offenses were violation of law, some were violation of the criminal law Censored until 1983
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