These days, environmental crime charges are taken very seriously, and often carry weighty penalties that can permanently disrupt your life or your business. As a result, it is important that you understand exactly what environmental crime charges entail and how they are prosecuted.
What are Environmental Crimes?
Broadly speaking, an environmental crime occurs when an action is taken that directly harms the natural world. A prime example of this is illegal dumping, which often involves the release of hazardous waste into the environment, damaging delicate ecosystems as a result.
Other forms of environmental crimes involve the import or export of hazardous waste, the illegal discharge of toxic chemicals and pollutants into the US water supply, and the illegal use of restricted or regulated chemicals. Often, environmental crime charges can involve additional investigations that may have aided the crime, resulting in several charges being brought against you.
Penalties for Environmental Crimes
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), of the 320 criminal cases opened in 2012, 231 defendants were charged with penalties totalling 79 years of incarceration and over $44 million in fines. Criminal fines and civil penalties issued for acts of pollution reached $252 million in the same year.
Because of these high penalties, it is important to understand the environmental laws and regulations that are currently in place. If you believe that you may be at risk for environmental crime charges, you should consult with an attorney who is skilled at deciphering these complicated laws.