From its earliest days, the United States of America has been a free-market society, meaning that the concepts of supply and demand are supposed to control the market – not the government. In a free-market society, competition is generally viewed as a good thing because it forces companies that produce goods or offer services to continually work to make those goods and services better. Sometimes, however, the government does need to intercede, even is a free-market society, in order to ensure that smaller businesses have a chance to grow and eventually compete against the larger companies. The fear is that absent government intervention a single business, or a conglomeration of businesses could effectively control the entire market, eventually pushing prices up and quality down. To ensure this does not occur, the federal government has enacted several important anti-trust laws.
Anti-trust laws exist at both the state and federal level in the U.S. Their purpose is to provide oversight, ensure fair dealing, and prevent monopolies. At the federal level, three of the most important anti-trust laws are:
- The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 – the Sherman Antitrust Act was enacted as a way to prevent the restraint of interstate and foreign trade back during a time when the industrial revolution was producing industry giants. The Act makes it illegal to enter into a contract, combination, or conspiracy intended to restrain trade as well as to monopolize any part of interstate commerce. A violation of the Act can result in serious consequences, including the filing of criminal charges.
- The Clayton Act of 1914 – the purpose of the Clayton Act is to prohibit mergers and acquisitions that will effectively result in the lessening of competition among business in the same industry or market. For instance, imagine if AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all got together and became one company. It would be extremely difficult for any other cellular service provider to compete against such a monopoly. At the same time, the new mega-corporation would have no incentive to produce quality service since they would effectively have no competition.
- The Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 – the Federal Trade Commission Act created the federal Trade Commission (FTC) which remains the federal agency responsible for investigating violations of federal anti-trust laws.
If you are a business owner who has been charged with a violation of a state or federal anti-trust law it is extremely important that you consult with an experienced “shite collar” defense attorney as soon as possible. Those anti-trust crimes are considered “white collar” crimes, some of them carry very serious penalties if convicted, including a lengthy prison term and/or a hefty fine.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.