Publication Date



[Excerpt] Under federal law, corporations or most other legal entities may be criminally liable for the crimes of their employees and agents. This is true in the case of regulatory offenses, like crimes in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; it is true in the case of economic offenses, like crimes in violation of the securities laws; and it is true in the case of common law crimes, like keeping a house of prostitution in violation of the Mann Act. Ordinarily, the agents and employees who commit the crimes for which their principals and employers are liable also face prosecution and punishment.

Individual criminal statutes, Justice Department policies, and the Sentencing Guidelines largely dictate the circumstances under which, and the extent to which, agents, employees, corporations, and similar unincorporated entities are prosecuted and punished. This is a brief overview of federal law in the area.


Suggested Citation
Doyle, C. (2013). Corporate criminal liability: An overview of federal law. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.