Criminal liability of legal entities in Colombia

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Criminal liability in legal persons refers to the ability of corporate entities, such as companies, organizations or institutions, to be held liable for the commission of crimes and to be subject to criminal sanctions. Unlike criminal liability in natural persons, which focuses on individual culpability, criminal liability in legal persons is based on the attribution of liability to the entity itself.

This liability is based on the principle of objective imputability, i.e., the capacity of the legal person to commit crimes and be subject to criminal sanctions. Legal entities may be criminally liable for offenses committed in the following areas:

  1. Corruption: Offenses related to bribery, bribery, influence peddling and illicit enrichment.
  2. Crimes against public administration: Crimes committed by public officials in the exercise of their functions.
  3. Money laundering: Offenses related to money laundering and money laundering.
  4. Financing of terrorism: Offenses related to economic or financial support to terrorist activities.
  5. Offenses against the economic and social order: Offenses related to fraud, swindling, unfair competition and other economic crimes.
  6. Environmental crimes: Crimes related to pollution, destruction of the environment and other crimes against natural resources.

In Colombia, there is no specific criminal liability system for legal entities, but it is a subject of debate because it is an issue that is becoming increasingly relevant in a society that is undergoing constant changes and is constantly perfecting the operational forms of committing crimes.

It is important to clarify that the responsibilities of legal entities are characterized by the following, according to the magazine
Social fabrics:

  1. a) They do not have the capacity to act in a criminal legal sense, since from this perspective, action is a physical behavior governed by psychological elements.
  2. b) The rules of authorship and participation are hardly applicable.
  3. c) legal persons have no capacity of culpability because they are based:
    • in the subjective (subject) imputation of facts to individual perpetrators and, finally, in the subjective (subject) imputation of facts to individual perpetrators,
    • Nor is a legitimization of penalties useful, because the distribution is based on the
    • guilt and this is exercised on the physical subjects.

Finally, the criminal liability of legal persons is a matter of great concern, which reflects the responsibility of this type of persons and they do not have great punishability, because only so far, in Colombia there are three legal consequences which are: financial penalties, cancellation of the commercial registration, temporary or permanent suspension of the work and temporary or permanent closure of the establishment or its facilities, of which all harm the economic system of the country and cause companies to reduce their staff and improve the quality of life of people.