Can Corporations Be Charged With Crimes?

November 2018

Just like individuals, corporations can be charged with certain crimes. A lot of people think corporations can’t be charged with crimes because they wonder “how would you imprison an entire corporation?” After all, we think of being put in jail as one of the most common consequences to being convicted of a crime. The answer is pretty simple: you can’t imprison an entire corporation. But that doesn’t mean a corporation can’t be charged with a crime and face consequences, if convicted.
 


 

There’s a difference between charging a corporation and charging its top executives. The decision for both of those scenarios lies with the prosecutor. Sometimes the prosecutor will decide to charge, or indict, either a corporation or its top executives and other times it will choose to charge both. Top executives charged with crimes committed in their official business capacity can, indeed, go to jail for those crimes. But the corporation as a whole will face different consequences. Typically, if a corporation is charged with a crime, they are likely to face hefty fines if convicted and could be placed on probation where they would be watched and monitored for a period of time.

Of course, just like individuals, corporations can also be found not guilty and not convicted of the crimes. In that scenario, again just like with individuals, the corporation would not face these consequences. It’s possible for top executives to be found guilty but not the corporation and vice versa. And because top executives may have different interests than the corporation itself, a corporation may want to consider hiring an attorney separate from the attorney representing the top executives.

If you’re facing a crime as a top executive, make sure your attorney is experienced in white collar crime and is capable of handling a complex case that could also involve the corporation you work for. If you’re corporation is facing a crime, similarly, make sure your attorney has experience representing corporations in criminal court. These cases can be complex and although for corporations jail is off the table, they can have serious consequences that will affect your company and potentially the employees of your company depending on the financial situation of the corporation.

If you or your company is facing a criminal charge, give us a call today for a consultation. Whether you are charged individually or you are working to defend your company, we have the experience, knowledge and resources to defend you.