Is it possible for a company/business to be tried like an individual in civil or criminal court?

Can they be tried at all? What set that precedent?

Asked on September 23, 2012 under Business Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A company or business, regardless of the structure, can certainly be sued in civil court for monetary compensation if they injured a person, defaulted on a debt, breached a contract, etc. This is unexeptional and happens every day.

A company can in theory be tried by the governing in criminal court if it is an LLC or corporation (a legal "person")--otherwise, if there is no legal entity, the owner(s) will simply be tried directly. However, since you can't actually put an LLC or corporation in jail, there is little reason to do this; rather, if any executives or employees have demonstrably committed criminal acts, they may personally face criminal liability.


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A business being in corporate or limited liability form cannot be tried in a criminal court for a crime. Rather its representatives would be for the actual crimes they may have done and the entity is fined derivatively for their acts.

However, in a civil arena a corpoate or limited liability entity can be sued as a defendant for the acts of its representaitves and individually as an entity. Common law from ages ago set the precent codified now by state statutes.

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