This post was written by Efrem M. Grail and Kyle R. Bahr.

Criminal fines against companies and individuals convicted of white collar, antitrust, environmental, health care, and other offenses can balloon into the millions or hundreds of millions of dollars. In a recent ruling that protects the Sixth Amendment rights of defendants in these high-stakes cases, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Southern Union Co. v. United States that any fact supporting a “substantial” criminal fine must be found by a jury applying the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.

In this Alert, we explain the Court’s opinion and discuss the wide impact it will have on criminal actions, from investigation to sentencing.