The Catholic University of America

Summary of Federal Laws

Miscellaneous Laws

Federal Sentencing Guidelines

 Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual

The guidelines and policy statements in Chapter 8 apply when the convicted defendant is an organization. Organizations can act only through agents and, under federal criminal law, generally are vicariously liable for offenses committed by their agents. At the same time, individual agents are responsible for their own criminal conduct. Federal prosecutions of organizations therefore frequently involve individual and organizational co-defendants. Convicted individual agents of organizations are sentenced in accordance with the guidelines and policy statements in the preceding chapters. This chapter is designed so that the sanctions imposed upon organizations and their agents, taken together, will provide just punishment, adequate deterrence, and incentives for organizations to maintain internal mechanisms for preventing, detecting, and reporting criminal conduct.

The guidelines at §8B2.1 set forth the requirements for an effective compliance and ethics program for organizations. Organizations are vicariously liable under federal criminal law for acts committed by their agents. The definition of “organization” at 18 USC §18 includes non-profits such as a University. 

The guidelines require not only promoting compliance with laws, but promoting a "Culture of Compliance." The key elements of an effective compliance and ethics program per the guidelines include: 

1.  A Compliance Officer with authority and operational responsibility for the program.

2.  Establishing standards and procedures.

3.  Communicating standards, procedures and other aspects of the program.

4.  Board of Trustee oversight of program implementation and effectiveness.

5.  Periodic reporting to high level personnel and the Board by the Compliance Officer.

6.  Monitoring, auditing, and periodic evaluation of program effectiveness.

7.  A confidential mechanism for reporting legal violations or seeking guidance without fear of retaliation.

8.  Responding appropriately to criminal conduct with corrective action.





Effective Compliance Systems in Higher Education, Chaffin, et al.

updated 12-17-18