Antitrust violations are a serious cause for concern. If you have been accused of committing a crime as part of your business practices, you may be the subject of a serious antitrust investigation or even criminal penalties. The skilled Atlanta lawyers with Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson LLC are committed to helping our clients protect their businesses and rights when facing criminal charges.
Your Atlanta antitrust lawyer can analyze the details and evidence in your case to determine which defenses are most likely to yield a favorable outcome. Our accomplished criminal defense attorneys have years of experience successfully arguing some of the most complex antitrust cases in state and federal courts. Contact our team for a confidential consultation today to learn how to defend yourself when you have been accused of an antitrust violation.
Important antitrust laws
Anti-competitive business practices are designed to “level the playing field,” with multiple laws in place to protect against antitrust violations. These laws include the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Sherman Antitrust Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act.
Each of these discourages monopolies and promotes fair competition in the marketplace. The state of Georgia has also implemented antitrust laws in an attempt to ensure Georgia businesses remain in compliance with both state and federal laws.
Two of the most notable Antitrust laws include the Fair Business Practices Act, which is designed to reduce instances of market manipulation, and the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which is designed to prohibit unethical business practices. Antitrust violations can take multiple forms.
Understanding antitrust violations in Atlanta
Antitrust laws are in place to prevent price manipulation and market monopolization which can exploit consumers, reduce competition with the markets, and lead to gross inflation. Atlanta law firms’ antitrust cases can be notoriously complex, as the accused are often facing allegations that they have violated state and federal laws.
If you have been accused of engaging in any of the following unfair business practices, you could face criminal charges at both the state and federal levels. Hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney may be the only way to avoid the harsh penalties of a guilty verdict.
One of the most common types of antitrust violations is price fixing. Here, two or more competitors within the same market will come together and agree to charge the same price for their services or products. This can drive up costs and have a devastating effect on consumers, particularly when the price of necessary goods or services is artificially inflated to increase the company’s profits.
When business contracts are awarded based on bids, bid rigging involves bidders coordinating bids to manipulate the outcome of the awarding process and ensure bidders win the business contract. This is an unfair and deceptive practice that negatively impacts fair competition in these markets.
Resale price maintenance
Manufacturers are prohibited from fixing resale prices of brand products and prohibiting retailers from selling them at a lower price. This is known as resale price maintenance and often prevents retailer price competition internally.
Market allocation is particularly dangerous because it inflates the prices of goods and services and reduces consumer choice options. Companies work together and divide markets and consumers as opposed to competing for consumers who should be free to choose the option that most aligns with their goals or meets their needs without breaking the bank.
Group boycotts occur when multiple competitors in any given market come together to initiate a secondary boycott. They’ll refuse to do business with the company unless the company agrees to refuse to do business or cease doing business with a competitor or a potential competitor of the original companies initiating the boycott.
In a price-tying arrangement, a company refuses to sell a product unless the consumer also purchases a product that is tied to it. Price-tying agreements can also occur when a company refuses to sell a product unless the consumer agrees they will not purchase the product from a competitor. It is important to note that price-tying agreements can occur within individual organizations and amongst competitors.
Monopolies grossly inflate prices and reduce consumer choice. When multiple companies come together to form a single organization or one company requires multiple businesses to create a monopoly this ultimately drives prices down and prevents competitors from being able to keep their businesses open.
What are the penalties for an antitrust violation?
The type of antitrust violation you are accused of committing and the state or federal laws involved will determine the severity of the penalties you may face if you are convicted of an antitrust crime. Not only are you at risk of criminal penalties and charges but you could also be sued in civil court.
Violations of The Sherman Act
If you are found in violation of The Sherman Act, you could be fined up to $10 million as a company or $350,000 as an individual and be ordered to spend up to three years in a state or federal prison. Alternatively, if you were found in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act, the FTC may demand you cease all anti-competitive practices.
Violations of The Clayton Act
If a civil claim is brought against you under The Clayton Act, you could be ordered to pay three times the alleged victim’s damages if the jury finds you liable. These often occur in class action antitrust lawsuits that award victims for economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages, and even the alleged victim’s attorney’s fees.
Why do I need an antitrust defense lawyer?
When you are accused of a crime or facing the consequences of a civil class action lawsuit, you need a tried and tested trial attorney. Our firm has handled some of the most well-known white-collar cases in Atlanta. We have a unique perspective on how federal antitrust investigations should be handled, and we work tirelessly to help you clear your name of these allegations.
You can rely on our criminal defense lawyers to work with prosecutors to obtain a plea bargain where appropriate and present a powerful defense strategy before the judge and jury so you can get the acquittal you need to pick up the pieces of your life.
You can also rely on our antitrust defense team to review your business practices to get your business back on track and reduce the risk of any future potential antitrust violation accusations. You can expect the following when you choose Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson LLC to handle your antitrust defense case.
Our antitrust attorneys are prepared to help you protect your business if you become involved in an antitrust dispute. We work diligently to obtain a favorable outcome without bringing your case to court. However, if going to trial is necessary, our trial lawyers are ready to provide aggressive litigation representation.
Once your antitrust defense case has been resolved, our team will be by your side to prevent future allegations. We can help your business remain in compliance with state and federal antitrust laws by implementing risk mitigation plans and analyzing your business’s sales practices, pricing, advertising, and marketing guidelines.
We can also train your employees to bring awareness to antitrust regulations and violations and conduct risk assessments and internal audits, thereby reducing the likelihood of future antitrust violation accusations.
Legal guidance and support
Our antitrust defense law firm is by your side every step of the way. From ensuring your business remains in compliance with antitrust laws to advocating for your rights when you face criminal charges or have a civil claim brought against you, we’ll ensure you have access to the legal guidance and support you need when you need it most.
Before making any major business decisions, including mergers, acquisitions, or starting a new business, we make sure that you understand any unique implications that come with it.
What are some potential defenses in an antitrust case?
The type of antitrust violation in question will determine which defenses are most suitable for your case. The way we approach your defense will also depend on whether you are facing criminal charges or are challenging a civil claim brought against you. In some instances, we may be able to work out a plea agreement with the prosecutor which could mean the criminal charges against you are reduced to a lesser offense or dismissed entirely.
However, if a plea bargain is not possible or the district attorney is unwilling to offer a plea, presenting your case before a judge and jury may be the best way to fight for your freedom. Some of the most common defenses used to challenge antitrust violations include the following.
Lack of sufficient evidence
For the prosecutor to obtain a guilty verdict, they must prove you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and introduce evidence that shows the elements of the offense have been met. When the prosecutor does not meet these elements or lacks the sufficient evidence needed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury will have no choice but to return a not-guilty verdict.
Your antitrust defense attorney is responsible for introducing evidence that introduces reasonable doubt in the minds of the judge and jury. We also review the prosecutor’s evidence against you before a trial begins during discovery. If we find evidence that should be excluded or deemed inadmissible, we can file a pretrial motion to do so. If the judge agrees to toss out this evidence, and the prosecutor’s case relies on it to obtain a conviction, they may be forced to dismiss the charges against you or offer a plea bargain.
Constitutional rights violations
If your constitutional rights were violated at any point during a law enforcement investigation, the charges against you could be dismissed. If police conducted unlawful searches and seizures, failed to read you your Miranda rights, or engaged in misconduct of any kind, their case against you could fall apart.
If you did not engage in antitrust violations intentionally or by omission, a statutory defense could allow you to obtain an acquittal or secure a lesser penalty if you are ultimately convicted.
Get started with a skilled Atlanta antitrust lawyer today
When you are facing antitrust law violations, the penalties of a conviction could destroy your future. The criminal penalties could be life-altering and make it impossible for you to keep your business afloat. Fortunately, when you have a powerful Atlanta antitrust attorney defending you, you have an opportunity to protect your credibility and reputation.
Avoid the devastating consequences of a conviction. Contact a respected Atlanta antitrust attorney with Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson LLC to schedule your confidential consultation today. Reach us by phone at (404) 891-9150 or through our secured contact form to get started.