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Should I worry if my corporation faces white collar charges?

On behalf of Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP | Dec 27, 2018 |

People convicted of crimes face possible prison time when convicted of a crime. Companies can face criminal charges, as well. While a company won’t go to jail, consequences of conviction can result in serious penalties that scuttle business potential now and perhaps permanently.

Indictments against corporate entities typically take the form of white collar crime charges. In the past, penalties for conviction might have amounted to symbolic slaps on the wrist. In recent years, though, prosecutors have been more aggressive in bringing cases, especially when they involve significant amounts of money. Such action demands a strong defense.

What can occur after indictment

No two cases are ever alike, but nearly every case involves similar questions and answers. For example, in recent years, the concept of corporations carrying the same legal status as individuals has become firmly rooted in law. That means they have the same legal rights as private persons, and the same obligations for legal compliance. In addition, they can be held liable for the wrongdoing of individual agents of the corporation.

As we have already noted, while time behind bars can only be served by individuals involved in corporate criminal activity, companies have plenty to be concerned about when charged and found guilty. Fines could be significant. Recall the tens of billions of dollars that major banks paid in penalties for actions that contributed to the housing crisis and Great Recession.

Courts also have the power to put companies on probation, meaning that their operations effectively are controlled by judicial oversight. Additionally, convictions present a threat to intangible corporate assets, such as brand, reputation and good name, which if eroded or destroyed might never be recovered.

With all that is at stake, whether white collar charges involve a company or an individual, working with skilled legal counsel is imperative for achieving the best possible outcome.