Plea Bargaining's Survival: Financial Crimes Plea Bargaining, a Continued Triumph in a Post-Enron World
39 Pages Posted: 22 May 2008
This article examines the war on financial crimes that began after the collapse of Enron in 2001. Although many believed that the reforms implemented following this scandal led to greater prosecutorial focus on financial crimes and longer prison sentences, an analysis of data from 1995 through 2006 reveals that little has actually changed. The statistics demonstrate that the government's focus on financial crimes has not increased and prison sentences for fraud have remained stagnant. How could this be the case? It is this author's hypothesis that although prosecutors could have chosen to use new statutes and amendments to the United States Sentencing Guidelines passed in the wake of Enron to increase prosecutions and sentences, they did not. Instead, prosecutors are using their new tools to encourage defendants to accept plea agreements that include sentences similar to those offered before 2001, while simultaneously threatening to use these same powers to secure astounding sentences if defendants force a trial. The result is that the promises of post-Enron reforms aimed at financial criminals were hollow and served only to reinforce plea bargaining's triumph.
Keywords: Crime, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Plea Bargaining, Plea Bargain, Plea Deal, Prosecution, Federal Prosecutor, Department of Justice, DOJ, Attorney General, Sentencing, Sentencing Guidelines, Enron, Financial Crimes, Corporate Crime, White Collar Crime, Financial Crimes Task Force
JEL Classification: K14, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation