Do Companies and Businesses Need Criminal Defense?
Wrongdoing and any kind of misdemeanor or felony are punishable by the law. Although businesses and corporations are not physical but artificial entities, they can be held accountable for any crimes they may commit. These charges can include fraud, cheating, copyright infringement, and harming the public, among others. Public prosecutors enforce the law and hold companies liable for any criminal activity. They may charge the individuals and agents acting for the company, such as the directors, employees, staff members, officials, executives, and investors.
Criminal Charges Prevent Future Negligence and Harm.
Penalizing companies for their employees’ and agents’ actions is effective in deterring them from conducting actions that hurt people and property. A good example is the criminal charges brought against NiSource Inc. that owns Columbia Gas of Massachusetts. The company was held responsible for the gas explosions in Andover, which resulted in the damage and destruction of 131 structures and the death of a Lawrence resident.
Since companies cannot be imprisoned, the law indicted the subsidiary’s employees directly involved in the actions leading up to the mishap. The company was asked to cover the damages from the explosion and pay private claims worth $462 million to the victims.
Companies and Businesses Face Penalties.
Companies found guilty of wrongdoing risk losing their business licenses and incurring massive fines that can potentially bankrupt them. Hiring a criminal defense attorney can help them put together the appropriate strategies to minimize the penalties. Having an experienced legal team on board can also protect businesses from possible lawsuits by getting advice on the precautions they must take when providing products and services to customers. Staying compliant with federal laws and regulations can be done with the right guidance.
Criminal Cases May Result in Restitution and/or Injunctions
Typically, cases against corporations are heard by a state attorney general, judge, or jury. In most instances, the company is ordered to pay restitution to the individuals who have been financially and emotionally harmed because of the actions of its employees or any other agents. Depending on the nature of the charges, the court may also order an injunction to prevent the company from an illegal action. Alternatively, the judge may order the company to perform a specific action.
In both situations, the law attempts to correct unfair situations by creating new rules or enforcing existing regulations to protect the community against unlawful practices. Aside from individuals, other businesses can also request injunctions. While specific company agents can be found guilty of illegal behavior, the courts may also charge groups of people in a collective trial and award prison sentences.
Cases Like Defrauding People are Tried with Criminal Charges
Situations where the company misrepresents its financial statements to fraud people into investing money, are against the law and can be tried with criminal charges. Typically, chief executive officers and corporate financial officers face fraud charges and can incur fines of up to $1 million and a 10-year prison term.
On the flip side, companies can protect themselves from false allegations of fraud by getting remote notarization for their legal documents. Getting the seal of approval from an authorized official affirms that all agreements and contracts are authentic and that the identities of the signatories have been verified. Larger corporates may also have a notary in their finance department to ensure that all paperwork complies with the requirements of the law.
Whether individuals or corporate entities, no one is above the law and can be prosecuted for illegal acts.