My law firm has in the last few months been called in a couple of times to assist other law firms in defending federal criminal actions here in the United States arising from Chinese imports. These two cases are still very much pending so I cannot discuss them in any detail. However, they have taught me a couple things regarding United States criminal law, one of which I found really surprising. Here goes:
This was the big surprise. Federal statute, 21 U.S.C. § 331(a), prohibits “[t]he introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of any food, drug, device, or cosmetic that is adulterated or misbranded.” This statute is a strict liability statute, which means you can be found guilty of violating it even if you had no intent and no knowledge regarding the crime. In other words, if you import adulterated or misbranded food or drugs into the United States, you can be found criminally liable even if you had no idea of any problems. A violation of this statute is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year imprisonment, a fine of up to $100,000 ($200,000 for a corporation) and up to one year of supervised release. The penalties can be even higher for a second violations and for violations with “intent to defraud or mislead.”
I just thought you should know. Did you?
US criminal lawyers, weigh in please.