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It was once a fundamental principle of corporate law that corporate officers were largely shielded from personal exposure to the liabilities of the corporation. It was once a fundamental principle of criminal law that in order to convict a defendant of a crime, a prosecutor had to prove the defendant’s mens rea or criminal intent, and guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, in cases such as United States v. Dotterweich1 and United States v. Park,2 the U.S. Supreme Court set forth what is known as the “responsible corporate officer” doctrine. Under this doctrine, in situations where corporations violate certain statutes, particularly those protecting public health or safety, corporate officers and executives can be convicted of a crime even if they had no involvement in the wrongdoing, or even knowledge that the wrongdoing was taking place.

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