In addition to individuals, corporations can also face white collar charges. These charges can be difficult to understand and can strongly affect the future of a corporation. If your company is facing any criminal charges, you should consider scheduling a free consultation with a Maryland federal criminal lawyer today.
Although the Department of Justice has recently announced that it will be focusing on personal liability in corporate criminal cases (see the Yates Memo), this does not meant that it will stop investigating and prosecuting corporations. Many agencies in the federal government investigate corporations for criminal liability, including the FBI, SEC, FinCEN, IRS, among others.
A corporation is treated in the law as a person. Thus, a corporation can be charged with any sort of offense that a human being could be charged.
The government has a wide range of discretion deciding who to charge in a criminal case. A lot of times for purposes of bargaining position, the government will choose to charge or not charge a corporation to place financial pressure on an individual defendant that they might be interested in. However, there is a whole host of factors that go into that decision.
Typically, if a corporation is going to get charged it will be for a white collar offense. If the government does an investigation and they find that fraud exists throughout the corporate structure, then the corporation could definitely be a target. The government would go to the top people in the organization, if they are not targets, and let them know that the way to prevent the corporation from getting charged is to cooperate against the individuals committing fraud. These types of circumstances happen quite often.
If a corporation has a conviction on its record, this can make it difficult for it to do business particularly in the federal contracting space. Primarily, a corporation will face very heavy fines and penalties. Also, the corporation could be prohibited from doing government contracting work for a number of years which can invoke a huge financial penalty on the corporation, in a process called debarment.
General counsel for a corporation should immediately get involved and consider bringing in outside counsel to represent the agent. Outside counsel will immediately need to begin an investigation and initiate a document preservation policy which means no document, email, or any other company files get destroyed. This helps prevent anything from going missing, which is one of the worst things that can happen during an investigation.
The difference between defending an individual and a corporation in federal court is that there are more options available for a corporation. A Maryland white collar lawyer will also want to ensure that the company is not prevented from doing business with the federal government or business in general.
Thus, a lawyer will usually negotiate with the government by paying a fine and ensuring that procedures are put in place to prevent this from happening again. The stakes are somewhat different whereas, when a person represents an individual, the individual can potentially go to jail.