Mishandling Hazardous or Toxic Substances
In the 1970’s, Congress passed a series of laws aimed at protecting the nation’s water, lands, and air from uncontrolled pollution. Resulting environmental regulation was also accompanied by criminal provisions, which were included to deter companies from using illegal shortcuts to evade government controls. Unfortunately, many companies are charged with mishandling hazardous substances even though they failed to comply with these rules not out of a desire to break the law, but because they were unaware of the nuances of the regulations. These types of offenses are aggressively investigated and prosecuted, so if you have been charged with violating an environmental regulation related to the disposal and treatment of toxic substances or pollutants, it is critical to contact a white collar crime lawyer who can help you formulate a defense and establish your innocence.
Violating environmental regulations is unlawful under a variety of different statutes. However, most of these types of offenses require proof of:
- A pollution event, such as unlawfully discharging a pollutant into the water, dumping waste on land, or emitting air pollutants; and
- Criminal intent, which requires evidence that the defendant acted knowingly and voluntarily and that the conduct was not merely the result of an accident or a mistake.
The latter element is often the most important in these types of investigations and prosecutors will go to great lengths to dig up any evidence of intent in company communications, records, and even official statements made by the company’s officers.
Examples of Mishandling a Toxic Substances
Because there are so many different environmental protection statutes, there are actually a number of different offenses with which a person can be charged. However, most include allegations of the following crimes:
- Unlawfully diluting and selling contaminated oil;
- Failing to properly treat and dispose of contaminated waste oil;
- Misusing pesticides;
- Unlawfully removing and disposing of building materials that contain asbestos or other toxic substances;
- Failing to supply employees who work around toxins with protective equipment;
- Unlawfully discharging pollutants into storm drains and waterways;
- Operating certain types of ovens and furnaces without a permit, resulting in the emission of dangerous gases;
- Failing to install appropriate equipment at a work site to reduce unsafe emissions;
- Illegally storing and disposing of pollutants and dangerous waste;
- Concealing violations from EPA inspectors;
- Unlawfully draining and filling wetlands;
- Illegally discharging wastewater; and
- Failing to keep necessary records of the collection, transfer, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials.
These types of charges should be taken seriously, as conviction can result in extended prison sentences, fines, and injunctions, all of which can quickly drive a company out of business.
Call Today to Discuss Your Charges with an Experienced White Collar Crime Lawyer
If you have been accused of violating an environmental regulation, you may be facing jail time and hefty fines. To begin working on your defense, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys at 305-670-9919 today. A member of our Miami legal team will help you schedule a free consultation at your earliest convenience.