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NCJ Number: 118401 Find in a Library
Title: Murder, Inc.: The Criminal Liability of Corporations for Homicide
Journal: Seton Hall Law Review  Volume:18  Issue:2  Dated:(1988)  Pages:378-404
Author(s): D J Reilly
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 27
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Corporate criminal liability for homicide and the social utility of prosecuting corporations rather than individuals are addressed.
Abstract: Several courts have held that corporations may be criminally liable for homicide resulting from wrongful acts of their agents. The authority relied on by these courts is analogy to tort law. Since a corporation is legally distinct from its shareholders and agents, the question remains as to the social utility of prosecuting the corporation in addition to or instead of corporate agents. An answer to this question must consider whether objectives of criminal and tort law are similar enough to warrant analogy and whether criminal prosecution of corporations for homicide serves those objectives. It is concluded that the extension of criminal liability for homicide to corporations is no more than a legal non sequitur. The logic of corporate criminal indictment cases does not justify an inference that a corporate entity is capable of being deterred from criminal conduct. Likewise, the concept cannot be supported by analogy to the tort law doctrine of respondeat superior. As respondeat superior effectively distributes the costs of victim compensation to consumers through higher prices, imposing a fine on a corporation for tortious injury only results in fine costs being shared by society. Although wrongful acts performed on behalf of a corporation that result in death cannot be condoned, a theory of criminal liability that stigmatizes all members of the organization, penalizes innocent shareholders, and has little deterrent effect on future misconduct is not the answer. Rather, prosecutorial efforts must be directed at punishing responsible individuals. 189 references.
Main Term(s): Corporate criminal liability
Index Term(s): Homicide
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