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NCJ Number: 134998 Find in a Library
Title: Why Personhood Doesn't Matter: Corporate Criminal Liability and Sanctions
Journal: American Journal of Criminal Law  Volume:18  Issue:3  Dated:(Summer 1991)  Pages:263-287
Author(s): S Walt; W S Laufer
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 25
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article argues that the imposition of corporate criminal liability does not require reference to persons or features peculiar to individuals.
Abstract: The article first identifies the role of "personhood" in Federal and State corporate culpability requirements. It then considers and rejects the doctrinal approach that denies personhood to corporations under the assumption that persons and corporations differ radically in kind. The article argues that for some purposes, individuals themselves can be treated as corporations. The analysis then justifies the imposition of criminal liability without the use of premises that mention personhood. Overall, the article concludes that although personhood can be ascribed to corporations, such an ascription is unnecessary for the assignment of criminal or moral responsibility; this only requires reference to features of entities, whether individual or corporate. The authors further reason that there are limits to discrepancies in the comparative mix of types of sanction between individuals and corporations. Justifiable discrepancies in the comparative mix in types of sanction are constrained by the nature of punishment. Sentencing commissions are charged with the delineation of determinate sanctions for individuals and corporations. Commissions should be attentive to the precise limits of disparities in types of sanction between the two entities. 84 footnotes
Main Term(s): Corporate criminal liability
Index Term(s): Corporate crimes; Sentencing guidelines
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