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Increased individual liability for corporate crime sought

While many Pennsylvania residents may initially think about things like murder, assault or robbery when they think about crime, it is equally important to acknowledge white collar crime. There are many things that can be considered white collar crime and it is not just individual people but entire corporations that can face allegations of these crimes. Perhaps a good recent example is how banks were targeted during the recent recession for their alleged involvement in the financial crisis.

While prosecutors work to secure convictions or decisions that they find appropriate against defendants, it is interesting to watch a potential issue arise in this realm. Some new laws that went into effect in 2015 make bringing charges against executives or other employees within companies harder. At the same time, however, the new U.S. Attorney General has taken steps to encourage prosecutors to seek individual liability as well as corporate liability in these cases.

Companies will be encouraged to provide information about individuals involved in suspected white collar crimes. But, when prosecuting these defendants, attorneys will have to prove that people actually knew a crime was happening and that a specific action was in fact illegal if that fact is not otherwise commonly known.

How the wish to hold individuals more accountable will play out with the laws that make proving guilt harder is yet to be known. In the meantime, persons who are accused of white collar crime may wish to talk to a lawyer to understand more about how the laws relate to their case.

Source: Borderstan, “Legal Review: Justice Department at a Crossroads on White Collar Crime Reform,” Kush Arora, April 13, 2015

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