Can Corporations Be Charged With A Crime? WorldCom & Reliant Energy Services

Essay by laurel210College, UndergraduateA+, December 2007

download word file, 10 pages 0.0

When one thinks of crime, it is usually with individuals in mind. However, companies commit crimes as well. Black's Law Dictionary Abridged Eighth Edition defines "crime" as:Crime - "an act that the law makes punishable; the breach of a legal duty treated as the subject matter of a criminal proceeding" (Garner, 2005).

Crimes fall into different categories, called the classifications of crimes. Crimes are classified as felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions. There are federal statutes and state statutes in which the crime classifications fall under, and the state statutes, although may be similar from one state to one another, are not universal across the board. Further, felonies and misdemeanors are divided into degrees of severity, for example Class A Felony, Class B Felony, Class C Felony, Class A Misdemeanor, Class B Misdemeanor etc…, for the purpose of determining the sentencing that will be imposed upon conviction.

I will not be discussing infractions in this paper, so there is no need to define it; however, Black's Law Dictionary defines felony and misdemeanor as:Felony - "a serious crime usu.

punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death."Misdemeanor - "a crime that is less serious than a felony and is usu. punishable by fine, penalty, forfeiture, or confinement (usu. for a brief term) in a place other than prison (such as a county jail)" (Garner, 2005). Where this definition says confinement for a brief term, it means less than one year.

A corporation is not capable of acting for itself, nor, if and when criminal acts are committed can the corporation be jailed (Cheeseman, 2005). However, according to the Deputy Attorney General, Paul J. McNulty, of the United States Department of Justice in his 2006 Memorandum titled "Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations" a corporation can be charged with...