Document Type


Publication Date



This article examines the common law respondeat superior test for corporate criminal liability and proposes that it be expanded beyond the current two prong test to encompass a third prong regarding moral culpability. Further, this article supports this proposal by noting that the Department of Justice has already incorporated a moral culpability element into its analysis of corporate criminal liability through application of the Department’s Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations. While some might argue that one should be satisfied that the Department of Justice has seen fit to implement a new corporate criminal liability standard on its own volition, there are two fundamental flaws with allowing the status quo to suffice. First, while the government’s consideration of the Principles of Prosecution may be “mandatory,” these guidelines create no legal rights for corporate defendants. Second, the Principles of Prosecution contain elements for consideration that are outside the applicable scope of inquiry because they examine actions by the corporation that occur after the criminal conduct under scrutiny. As such, this article proposes a revised common law respondeat superior test that focuses the analysis of whether the corporation is morally culpable on a refined and appropriately limited group of pre-offense and offense specific factors.