The BP oil rig explosion and subsequent oil spill killed eleven people and hundreds of thousands of sea creatures that formed a substantial part of the Gulf economy.
Rumor has it that the joint task force encompassing the Department of Justice's environmental and criminal divisions are currently determining who to hold responsible for those deaths. Talks are in the works to decide whether to bring manslaughter and perjury charges against the company and managers who oversaw the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.
The investigation is reportedly still in its infancy, but that BP manslaughter charges are a definite possibility, reports the Associated Press.
If BP manslaughter charges are sought, they will be of the involuntary variety. To prove involuntary manslaughter, which usually carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, prosecutors will only have to show that decision makers were reckless or criminally negligent towards the safety of employees stationed on the oil rig.
In other words, before filing BP manslaughter charges, the Department of Justice will need to feel confident that it has sufficient evidence to show that managers knew that the rig was unsafe. Compiling this evidence may take months or years.
As for the perjury charges, the Associated Press also reports that Attorney General Eric Holder is looking into whether BP executives lied under oath during the congressional investigation into the oil spoil. Perjury charges are likely to be easier to prove, but result in a significantly lower sentence than involuntary manslaughter.
- BP Is Said to Face U.S. Review for Manslaughter Charges (Bloomberg)
- Manslaughter: Involuntary (FindLaw)
- Criminal Charges from Oil Spill for BP Employees? (FindLaw Blotter)
- Barry Bonds Perjury: Lying Under Oath is a Crime (FindLaw Blotter)