Federal White Collar Crime
J.D. Course 455
| 2 credit hours
“White collar crime,” like general criminal law, has an actus reas and a mens rea, but – other than some isolated scenarios, which we will explore – that is where the similarities end. The continuum of behavior that is criminalized by the portion of the federal code that does not address “street” or violent crime is like the submerged portion of an iceberg: it is enormous and not easily discernible, because much of the conduct that is criminalized is not obviously, inherently criminal. This course will ensure that students have a solid understanding of the most frequently used statutes and doctrines that are employed in white collar prosecutions, as well as applicable defenses and common procedural issues that arise. Throughout the course, we will examine the elements of various white collar crimes and study, in detail, how those elements are applied in complex cases with multiple individual and corporate targets.
In this course, we will examine the doctrines that underpin “white collar crime” as they arise from general criminal law. The course will explore the constitutional and interpretive issues that attend to crimes that are often not what we think of as malum in se. Much of the semester will be spent viewing white collar criminal law through the prism of the various principles that serve to limit or expand the interpretation and application of white collar criminal laws, including but not limited to the doctrine of mens rea, the Constitutional prescriptions of lenity and specificity, the concept of entity liability, the responsible corporate officer doctrine, conspiracy liability, the role of attorney-client privilege, and prosecutorial discretion (through, among other sources, the United States Attorneys’ Manual). We will also study the role of sentencing in white collar criminal enforcement. Questions that will bear examination include: Are the goals of sentencing white collar defendants the same as those that we think of in general criminal cases? How do we measure harm? Who are the victims? Should we factor in collateral consequences?
The course will consist of 1 weekly two-hour meeting. Students will be tested through an in-class exam. As the class progresses, the last 30 to 45 minutes will be spent examining a factual problem that the students will be given before class to study and prepare.
Prerequisite: Criminal Justice (or the equivalent Democracy and Coercion) or Criminal Procedure. Recommended: Criminal Law.
Students may not receive credit for both this course and Role of the Federal Prosecutor or Federal Investigations and Prosecutions. Note: It is not recommended that students take this course and Advanced Criminal Procedure.
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