Attorney General Merrick Garland recently announced that the federal government will be providing additional funding to combat certain types of criminal activity. As environmental white-collar crime is a growing concern, the Department of Justice is increasing its commitment to the prosecution of this type of criminal activity. Specifically mentioned in Garland’s statements were corporations and individuals that commit environmental crimes.
There are a variety of white-collar crimes, typically committed with the intent of financial gain. In environmental criminal cases, individuals or corporations may commit violations that result in harm to the environment in order to cut corners, save money and more. By increasing enforcement, the federal government intends to identify these types of cases more frequently and prosecute the responsible parties to the fullest extent of the law.
More enforcement, more protection for the environment
President Biden has recently called on federal agencies to do everything in their power to hold parties accountable for polluting the environment. In addition to holding publicly traded corporations and other types of companies to a high standard of transparency and adherence to environmental law, Garland also emphasized the intent to vigorously prosecute individuals for these crimes for the following reasons:
- Higher personal accountability may discourage future violations by others.
- Corporations and businesses only operate through the decisions and actions of individuals.
- Penalties imposed on an individual can still affect a corporation.
- Americans should be able to trust the government to hold the powerful accountable for wrongdoing.
Failure to comply with environmental regulations — allowing individuals to make decisions that result in pollution, failure to act with transparency or committing other environmentally harmful actions in the name of financial gain are examples of what could result in federal prosecution. Both individuals and corporations can face serious legal repercussions, and individuals facing charges of any type of white-collar crime could serve extensive time in prison if convicted.
The right defense strategy
Allegations of environmental wrongdoing and violations of certain regulations may lead to a formal investigation and even criminal charges. If you are under investigation or if the actions of your company could leave you exposed to federal prosecution, you will benefit from learning about the defense options available to you as soon as possible. The penalties you could face are steep, and due to the complex nature of these cases, you may benefit from first seeking an explanation of what you are up against and how you can protect your interests.