Criminal prosecution refers to the process that occurs when an individual or an organization is suspected of breaking the law. Criminal charges are accusations made in writing that a person or organization has done something against the law. Both police officers and victims of crimes can file reports that result in criminal prosecution. However, not all of these accusations hold up in court. Criminal prosecution is the American justice system’s way of determining whether the accused is guilty of breaking the law. If you have a business, you should be aware that criminal prosecution is one outcome of white-collar crime.

What is White-Collar Crime?

White-collar crime includes illegal actions committed by a corporation or business in addition to illegal actions committed by individuals operating on behalf of a corporation or business. Laws determining what behavior is criminal and what is not vary from state-to-state. Not all negatively-viewed behaviors are considered criminal in every state. For instance, some jurisdictions actually permit insider trading between companies. It’s important to be fully aware of the laws in your home state when you run a business. Not knowing what kinds of activities are legal versus illegal can get you into unnecessary trouble. Hire a lawyer if you want more information about the law in your home state.

Common White-Collar Crimes

There are a variety of white-collar crimes that are committed each and every day in the United States. These are almost always nonviolent offenses that result in illegal monetary gain to the perpetrator. Bank fraud, blackmail, counterfeiting, bribery, forgery, insider trading, tax evasion, money laundering, and anti-trust violations are all common examples of white-collar crimes that can result in criminal prosecution depending on the laws in your state. It is extremely difficult to measure the extent of these crimes in the United States as the Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI) chooses to group white-collar crimes into three categories: counterfeiting and forgery, embezzlement, and fraud. All other types of white-collar crimes are investigated separately.

The Verdict

The Verdict

Legal Settlements

Companies that are accused of breaking the law often make a legal settlement. These days, legal settlements among large companies doing business in the United States are unbelievably common. Examples of recent legal settlements in the U.S. include Bank of America, which paid $16.65 billion in August 2014 for financial fraud leading up to the financial crisis several years earlier. Goldman Sachs Group paid a whopping $1.2 billion dollars in 2014 in order to settle a lawsuit issued by the United States Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Goldman Sachs was accused of selling mortgage bonds without disclosing risks prior to the Great Recession. Other companies that have recently paid money in order to makeup for their wrongdoing include: Toyota, General Electric, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and Barclays.

Quick Summary

Criminal prosecution occurs when an individual or company is accused of breaking the law. Once an accusation is made, the accused must go to court in order to see if there is proof to support the accusation. In the case of large companies, legal settlements are often used to settle criminal offences.