Criminal Law

Can Negligence Become Criminal?

Since the last financial crisis and the resulting increased scrutiny on business entities, companies involved in suspected corporate misconduct repeatedly have paid massive fines to resolve criminal charges. Alongside high-profile announcements by the government of multi-million- and billion-dollar recoveries has been a near constant refrain from politicians and commentators that prosecutors have been lax in pursuing individuals in connection with large corporate malfeasance.

Elizabeth Warren, United States Senator from Massachusetts, often has been a leader in criticizing the lack of individual prosecutions. In her 2014 memoir, “A Fighting Chance,” she called for the “indictment” of individuals for activities resulting in the 2008 financial crisis while simultaneously admitting that she actually had no knowledge of whether corporate executives in fact had committed any crimes. She was critical of prosecutors’ efforts, expressing surprise that the financial collapse failed to result in “perp walks” and “mass indictments.”

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