During the last 125 years, the U.S. Congress has passed several key pieces of antitrust regulations to ensure fair competition and protect consumers. Those companies and individuals that allegedly violate federal antitrust violations risk becoming the target of aggressive investigations, and prosecutors will seek the maximum penalties against them.
U.S. Antitrust Laws
Congress has enacted legislation that protects consumers by encouraging fair competition, restricting the formation of cartels that would inhibit trade, restricting mergers and acquisitions that would decrease competition, and preventing monopolies.
The three principal laws are:
- The Sherman Antitrust Act, passed in 1890, that makes it illegal to form trusts or conspiracies that would monopolize commerce.
- The Clayton Act, passed in 1914, that expands antitrust law and specifies the legalities of mergers and acquisitions, exclusive dealings, directorship of competing corporations and price discrimination.
- The Federal Trade Commission Act, passed in 1914, that establishes the Federal Trade Commission.
Types of Violations
Federal antitrust violations can include:
- Attempts to form a monopoly
- Unfair mergers and acquisitions
- Unfair business practices
- Unfair competition
- Attempts to restrain trade
- Price fixing
- Bid fixing
The federal government uses both civil and criminal penalties to prevent companies from forming, or attempting to form, monopolies in the U.S. marketplace. As specified in the Sherman Antitrust Act, both companies and individuals can be prosecuted under federal law. To win a civil lawsuit, a plaintiff must not only prove their own business was harmed by a defendant/competitor, but also that the defendant was trying to undermine market competition and hurt the plaintiff in the process.
Hiring a Federal Criminal Lawyer to Defend You
If you learn that you are the subject of a federal investigation, it is critical that you hire a federal attorney immediately. You should expect that the evidence gathered by federal investigators before an indictment is filed, will be very extensive. You may be jailed overnight or for several days. While you are in jail, do not talk about the incidents that occurred with anyone other than your attorney. A judge will determine if you are eligible for a bond. Among the criteria they will use to make this decision is whether or not you are a flight risk. You will be asked to surrender your passport immediately. Don’t talk to investigators or prosecutors unless your attorney is with you. When you meet with your federal criminal lawyer, tell them everything that happened both before and during your arrest. Your attorney will make discovery requests to obtain items such as phone tap recordings, lab reports and law enforcement reports. They will go over this information carefully to find anything inaccurate or inconsistent that can strengthen your case.