Since the 1970’s, numerous federal laws, such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, have been passed to protect our ecological and wildlife resources. If you or your company violate these laws, criminal charges can be brought against you by the state or federal government.
Federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and the Department of Justice, have ample resources to investigate and prosecute environmental crimes. Special Agents of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, Special Agents of the Fish and Wildlife Service, and specially trained investigators from other federal, state, and local agencies often work in conjunction with one or more of the DOJ’s 43 Environmental Crimes Section prosecutors to build strong criminal cases against individuals and corporations who have allegedly violated a federal environmental law.
If you and/or your business are being investigated for an environmental crime or if you’ve already been charged with one, it is important to fight the prosecution’s case with a thorough, aggressive defense. At Haas Law, we have the experience in federal court, skill as a trial lawyer, and resources you need to help keep the investigation and prosecution from damaging your business, your reputation, and your future.
Federal environmental laws include statutes such as the Clean Air Act; Federal Hazardous Material Transportation Law; Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act; Federal Water Pollution Control Act; and Ocean Dumping Act. Violations of these statutes can involve:
- oil spills
- hazardous material spills
- unlawful transporting or disposal of toxic waste
- discharging pollutants into water
- improper removal and disposal of asbestos or toxic material
- the misuse of pesticides
- endangering the water supply
- other violations of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, or the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
State and local governments’ environmental laws reflect the federal statues, so, in many instances, the same acts constitute violations of federal, state, and local laws. It is not uncommon, therefore, for environmental crimes task forces to bring federal, state, and local agents together to collaborate on investigating and prosecuting crimes.
Defending Against Charges of Environmental Crimes
Since an environmental case can end up in federal court, it is important to have a defense attorney who is qualified as a federal trial lawyer and experienced in handling federal cases if you are under investigation for or charged with an environmental crime. It is also important that your attorney understand EPA investigations and the specific standards involved in environmental cases.
In an environmental crime case, the prosecution must prove that the violation was intentional, not due to a mistake or accident. Most cases require proof of an actual pollution event (e.g., discharge of a pollutant into a body of water, emission of an air pollutant, or dumping of waste on land) and proof of criminal intent. That is, the government has to show that you acted “knowingly.” Therefore, a possible defense may be that you were unaware of the violation or that it occurred due to a mistake.
In some cases, environmental charges coincide with additional related charges, such as conspiracy, mail or wire fraud, money laundering, or other federal financial crimes. Having an attorney who has experience defending against these white collar criminal charges and can develop a sophisticated strategic defense is crucial in protecting your rights and your future.
Fight Environmental Crimes Charges with Help from an Experienced Federal Trial Attorney
If you think you’re being investigated for an environmental crime or you have already been formally indicted, working with a defense attorney experienced in fighting the charges in federal court is essential to protect your rights and your future. A conviction could result in harsh penalties, such as incarceration and large fines, so do not delay in contacting our office as soon as possible.
At Haas Law, we are experienced in helping clients who are being investigated for or have been charged with environmental crimes. Our extensive federal court experience has given us the knowledge, skill, and resources to defend you successfully and obtain the best possible outcome for your future.
U.S. Department of Justice. Environment Crimes Section. (2015). Prosecutors protecting our environment.
U.S. Department of Justice. Environment Crimes Section. (2015). Historical Development of Environmental Criminal Law. (2015).