NFIB calls on Court to apply lenity to civil penalty prosecutions
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 23, 2022) – NFIB filed an amicus brief in the case Alexandru Bittner v. United States of America at the United States Supreme Court. The case concerns the Bank Secrecy Act and whether a violation under the Act is the failure to file an annual Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, or whether there is a separate violation for each individual account that was not reported.
“Small business owners are continually complying with various federal regulations in operating their business,” said Beth Milito, NFIB Senior Executive Counsel. “The penalties for violating these regulations can be extremely severe and potentially devastate small businesses that had good intentions to comply. Small businesses would benefit from applying lenity to civil penalty prosecutions. NFIB urges the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the lower court’s decision.”
The brief argues three main points: 1) lenity should apply to civil penalty prosecutions, 2) in the alternative, this case can be decided on a narrower ground by applying lenity to just the statutory provision imposing the penalty instead of the violated provision, and 3) the wording of an agency regulation should not be relied on to determine a unit of violation, except to avoid misleading the public.
NFIB filed the amicus brief with the National Association of Home Builders of the United States, American Farm Bureau Federation, Restaurant Law Center, and Corn Refiners Association.
The NFIB Small Business Legal Center protects the rights of small business owners in the nation’s courts. NFIB is currently active in more than 40 cases in federal and state courts across the country and in the U.S. Supreme Court.