The Sherman Anti-Trust Act is one of the main statues the government relies on when prosecuting what they consider to be anticompetitive business practices. When most people think of antitrust laws and prosecutions based on these laws they think of big corporations but that’s not always the case. The government frequently prosecutes individuals and small business owners based on alleged antitrust violations. Agreements between competitors, even those agreements which were entered into with innocent intentions can violate antitrust laws.
The government is increasingly drawn to these prosecutions because of the enormous amount of money that can be collected in fines. In a case in the Eastern District of California five different individuals were fined $1,000,000 each. Fines against corporations can be in the hundreds of millions. In one year the Department of Justice collected $3.55 billion in fines in anti-trust cases.
Antitrust allegations are serious. To defend against these charges turn to a lawyer with a track record of successfully defending antitrust allegations. These are the kind of criminal charges that can cost people more than their financial security, it can also cost them their freedom. In order to defend against these allegations its important to look at the intent of each person involved when they engaged in specific business transactions. It is also important to look at the surrounding details; who else was present, what else was being said, and how does the conduct effect prices… all of these considerations can be important in building a defense to antitrust allegations.
15 USC 1 – The Sherman Antitrust Act – Illegal Restraint of Trade
Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy hereby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court