Criminal Liability for Individuals in Matters of Corporate Wrongdoing is a hot topic not in the White Collar Crime Communities.

On September 10, 2015, Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates delivered a speech where she outlined her plans to change various guidelines on the prosecution of various crimes for the Department of Justice. Federal Criminal Attorneys  Specifically, the speech dealt with her proposed changes on how the Department of Justice was to investigate and prosecute individuals that commit crimes on behalf of the corporations that they worked for. Previously, individuals working for corporations generally didn’t have to worry about being charged for crimes that they committed, sometimes unknowingly, on behalf of the corporation. The changes outlined by Ms. Quillian Yates, however, seems to have changed that.

Specifically, the Deputy Attorney General outlined taking six specific steps to hold individuals working for corporations accountable. The steps that she outlined in her speech were the subject of a memo that she issued to all of the Department of Justice’s prosecutors and civil litigators. The primary policy shift, is the shift dealing with how the Department of Justice plans to deal with individuals that commit crimes while working for their corporation. Sentencing Issues  Specifically, Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates stated:

If a company wants any credit for cooperating with the Department of Justice in an investigation, the Cooperation must identify all individuals working for the cooperation that are involved in the wrongdoing. Previously, a corporation could get credit for cooperating and not have to identify to the DOJ the specific wrongdoers in the corporation.

Obviously this policy change is significant. Previously, the DOJ would not look to charge individuals within a corporation. Now those specific wrongdoers in a corporation should almost expect to get charged criminally by the government criminally.

What this means if when the DOJ brings a criminal investigation against a Corporation, the corporation and specific employees should retain experienced criminal counsel.