United States corporate crime Research Essay

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In America, the issue of business crime is not particularly new, and there are numerous obstacles to determining how frequently it occurs. Major incidents of corporate crime have occurred throughout the past of the United States and have caused untold numbers of people to suffer greatly. The public's focus has been drawn to the issues with the definition of corporate crime. White collar crimes and business crimes are often confused with one another. In the United States, numerous corporate crimes are regularly done, and they ultimately result in prosecution as white collar crimes that harm people in a variety of ways, including socially, economically, environmentally, and physically. The prosecution of corporate crime ass white collar crimes has put innocent people behind bars.

Examples of corporate crimes include deceptive financial practices, food contamination, pollution, illegal marketing, workplace hazards, illegal lobbying, and bribery. Many studies have also documented that voluminous of these crimes are not reported in the United States and thus their wrong doings continue to be a disturbing and devastating disorder in the United States. This is primarily attributed to corruption or lack of evidence to be used in the prosecution process. The under prosecution of these crimes due to various impediments such as barriers encountered in the investigation process has led to problems in determining their frequency.

Corporate crime is the crime committed by a company or any other organization which is said to have a separate legal entity. The extent of corporate crime is slightly known in the United States. The assessment of corporate crime in determining its frequency is deterred by the lack or deficiencies in a national database and corporations are not willing to release and information that relates to their illegal activities. Few national corporate statistics are documented especially when the corporations are under the control of the government. This problem has been in existence for a long time and it has deeply taken its roots into the American society. Sutherland (1983) was the first American criminologist who set out an investigation into the corporate crime and documented in his book White Collar Crime. In this book, he did describe 200 massive corporations and looked into the potential harm caused by corporate conduct. This formed the basis of more ambitious studies that have been done in the United States concerning corporate crime. Clinard and Yeager, in 1982 also set to survey the frequency of crime done by 477 corporations. In their study, they reported that 60% violated the American law. Of this results, they further noted that only 38% were charged in court while the rest were not due to various reasons such as lack of evidence and corruption (Clinard and Yeager, 1982). According to Clinard and Yeager, the problem involved in the prosecution of corporate crime and ways of curbing of this distressing ailment is an issue that has to be treated with great apprehension. The massive political power that these corporations exercise in influencing the laws that govern them is also a point of concern.

Statement of the Problem

Annually the cases that are reported and documented under corporate crime conviction are wanting to the United States. Determining the frequency of these cases is far harder that it can ever be imagined. Very few cases are convicted in America on misconducts relating to corporate crime and data that exists that could be used in tracking the frequencies of these crimes is insufficient. There are no proper guidelines that are directed towards keeping records of these cases and ease their tracking process. Besides, the problem associated with the definition of corporate crime is a point worth noting. Usually, confusion is made between the white collar crimes and the corporate crimes and thus the definition and prosecution of corporate crime have been a big challenge in the United States. It is normally easier to pinpoint crime done by an individual than the one done by a company even if the crime constitutes to corporate crime. Many of the companies that commit corporate crimes bury themselves in a complex network of transactions which are concealed and hidden in company's fronts and offshore accounts making it difficult to detect the frequency.

Purpose of Study

This research paper aims at comparing and contrasting the problems associated in determining and defining the frequency of corporate crime in the United States. The study will provide a description of the problems and enumerate how it is a problem in determining the corporate crime frequency. The problems encountered in defining corporate crime will also be a topic of emphasis. The problems tailored will provide an insight into the reasons why corporate crime is among the least documented crimes in the United States and why its prosecutions are not taken seriously. From this research, it will be clear to all stakeholders that are involved in corporate crime should be vigilant and treat this crime significantly like other crimes because they culminate to dangerous and detrimental impacts to the nation of United States.

Confusion between White Collar Crime and Corporate Crime

The problem encountered in determining and defining the frequency of corporate crime in the United States is that it is normally documented or tracked down like the white collar crime. Frequently this confusion that arises from the two types of crime makes it difficult to define and determine the frequency of the corporate crime. In the handling of corporate and white collar crimes, it has to be noted that there is a distinction between them. Whereas the white collar crimes are normally committed by a sole person working in a given organization, corporate crime is committed by a company and thus the company should be convicted and not an individual person. Weismann & Weismann (2012) report that the confusion has translated to difficulties in recording the corporate crimes and thus petite data exists on corporate crime in the federal and court systems of the United States. Investigators pursue the corporate crimes as the white collar crime. A good example of the case that involved corporate crime but convicted as white collar crime is the oil spill in Prince William Sound in Alaska. This was termed to be one of the America's upsetting ecological catastrophes. Under this case, the prosecutors did not define and determine if the company was responsible for the disaster or whether it was the employees of the company who were liable. No consideration was made to find out if it was a case of corporate crime or whether it white collar crime. Therefore, defining corporate crime has been a bigger problem and prosecutors have to come to a concession of what corporate crime and white collar crime involves to help in determining the frequency of this crime.

There is no Production of Annual Corporate Reports in United States

Reports relating to other forms of crime such as homicide and white collar crime are released annually and thus make it easier to track down the frequencies of the crimes. The Justice Department does not collect any data from the state and the federal agencies that would help in compiling annual reports on corporate crimes in America. If more effort could be channeled towards the annual release of these reports, determining the frequency of the crime will be easier. These reports will document data and information that will be essential to the public and to investigators. Furthermore, there will be a centralized course of information on the crimes that will help in coming up with strategies to address the issue. Indeed, the lack of annual reports makes it hard to have a record of civil, criminal and administrative activities that are done by companies and also how resolutions are arrived at in prosecuting these cases (Simpson & Gibbs, 2007). The trailing of the trends in the corporate crime has also been a challenge. This has been an impetus for disclosure of the corporate crimes and practically speaking the documented frequencies on corporate crimes are not the realities painted on the ground.

Under Prosecution of Corporate Criminals

Corporate crime is not only under-prosecuted in the United States but also it faces a problem of underfunding. Corporate companies that are prosecuted in the America do only represent a tip of the huge iceberg in the ocean of corporate crime. This has proven to be a significant impetus in determining and defining the frequency of this crime. For example, for each organization that is convicted to have committed fraud in healthcare, there are numerous other companies that get away with the fraud. Additionally, some of them are only told to pay meager fines and penalties for the crimes even though they are very dangerous to the society. There are many companies in the United States which are not prosecuted for having committed pollution crime such as environmental and water pollution (Simpson & Gibbs, 2007). This under prosecution arises because the corporate defense lawyers will provide an offer for some low-level employees to be jailed with an exchanged promise of not touching the company's executives.

Conviction of corporate crimes that involve the sale of illegal pesticides goes undocumented as the lobbyists will work their way out to ensure that the harmful sold pesticides continue to be legal. Many cases that encompass reckless homicides go unnoticed and are not investigated adding to the problem of under prosecution. If all the corporate crimes are to be prosecuted in the America, the statistics will dramatically skyrocket and the determination of the frequency of corporate crime will be easier. Huge volumes of severe cases of corporate crimes are also left on the table of deficiencies in resources. The insufficiency of resources needed to be utilized in handling this crime has made many of the cases to be ignored. There has been the development of three novel loopholes in the prosecution process over the few previous years that has added to the challenge. They include; the defunct entity, the no prosecution agreement and the deferred prosecution agreement. These loopholes have made prosecution of corporate crime more problematic.

The Problem of Corruption

Corruption has invaded many institutions in public organizations and prosecution of corporate crime is not an exemption. Any prosecutors who are involved in corporate crime trial view their carriers as a stepping stone to much bigger achievements. They aspire to realize their self-driven interests through carrying out corrupt activities. The corrupt doings make most of the crimes to go unreported or not prosecuted and thus hampering the frequency of this crime. A portion of the corporate crime prosecutors are driven by hopes of moving into the political ladder yet others especially the young prosecutors are motivated by entering into lucrative lifestyles with the corrupt money. Sadly reporting, some of the individuals involved in this crime turn themselves to authorities and massive popular corporate criminals do drive the prosecutions themselves (Weismann & Weismann, 2012). This means that they regulate their prosecutions through the bribes they give out for their cases not to be under trial. There has been a reduced faith in the corporate crime prosecutors and they are no longer trusted by the general public. They worship money at the expense of dangerous offenses and are infected with materialism. For each company that is prosecuted for bribery or violation of the federal law, there are many other companies that legally give out their money to politicians and thus profiting from a system that has in a way efficiently legalized bribery. Corruption is an ailment that has made it cumbersome to determine the frequency of the corporate crime.

Problems in Criminal Law and Law Enforcement

Many studies have documented that the enhancement of punishment for corporate crimes proves to be not a promising strategy. Arguments in favor of corporate crime prosecution have been driven towards the emphasis of importance and gravity of the crimes. The idea that the corporate crime existence together with the threats that come along with it has been a long-term predicament is still a question that is highly debatable. There have been influential effects on the criminal law that guide the corporate crimes. The enforcement of these laws has also been a challenge. There are no proper guidelines put in place that would ensure that corporate crime is reduced and even documented. Criminalization of this behavior is also faced with challenges such as barriers encountered in the investigation process (Amitai & Derek, 2006). Fewer reforms have been done on these laws. Detection and prosecution of the offenders are also a problem. There is low visibility and lack of enough information as most of the evidence are normally tempered with. Law enforcement agencies also lack materials and resources to effectively carry out their duties. Law enforcement demands a lot of effort and requires uncorrupt individuals and this may sound to be a mere wish which translates into shortages in the number of cases documented.

Deficiencies in Data

There is no central depository of data that records the number of cases done on the subject of corporate crime by either federal or state courts. As it is well known, United States Sentencing Commission is termed to be the very best known source yet it is less than ideal. The data compiled by this commission involves the cases of the corporations which are only of federal crimes (Amitai & Derek, 2006). Furthermore, no reliable and definite evaluations are done on corporation crimes in the United States that would provide a clear guidance in determining the frequency. In its crime reports, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation does not make comprehensively compiled information on this matter. This has contributed many companies getting involved in illegal and unethical activities. Averagely, conviction of a corporate crime is documented to be between 200 and 350 annually. These crimes involve violations of taxes and crimes relating to the environment.


The laws and regulations that prescribe the corporate crime sanctions have to be well defined and reformed to guide the tribunal of corporate crime. The public has to be guarded against the harmful impacts that are deeply rooted in the powers that corporate enterprise exercise. As well noted, many of the corporate crime are prosecuted as white collar crime and many individuals end up suffering severely on behalf of the companies in which they work. A disturbing thought remains; what should be done to eliminate the challenges encountered in the tracking the frequency of corporate crimes? Well, this may sound quite difficult, however, this problem can be dealt with if all stakeholders are vigilant. There is a significant need for increasing the corporate convictions so that the problems encountered in the determination of its frequency can be a problem of the past. Furthermore, the aspect of organization due diligence should be treated with great connotation. This will enable an effective implementation of the corporate ethics among which stipulates them to be responsible for their actions. Moreover, corrupt individuals should not be left to be in service. Uprooting them will not only serve as an example to the rest but also dramatically help in determining the frequency of crimes done in corporate prosecutions. At the center of all this, curbing corporate crime is more of a watchful reformed law and as the new legislations take the lead, all participants should be alert in their prescribed areas and work in unity and harmony towards the same goal; increasing the prosecution and documentation of corporate crime that will assist in determining the frequency.


Amitai Etzioni and Derek Mitchell. (2006). Corporate crime. Retrieved on January 18, 2017 from https://www2.gwu.edu/~ccps/etzioni/documents/A366.pdf

Clinard, M. & Yeager, P. (1982). Corporate Crime. Michigan Law Review, 80(4), 978. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1288268

Madof Benard. White-Collar and Corporate Crime. Retrieved on January 18, 2017 from. http://highered.mheducation.com/sites/dl/free/0078026423/971173/ch12.pd

Simpson, S. & Gibbs, C. (2007). Corporate crime (1st ed.). Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate.

Sutherland Edwin. (1983). White collar crime (1st ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press.

Weismann, M. & Weismann, M. (2012). Corporate crime & financial fraud (1st ed.). Chicago, Ill.: American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.

July 15, 2023

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