White-collar crime and corporate crime are phenomena of great social concern, largely because of their strong negative economic, financial, environmental, political and social consequences (Friedrichs, 2009). In order to explore how corporate crime has been prosecuted, the main goal of this investigation is to understand, to what extent, legal and extralegal factors determine the concrete application of a penal sanction, when the defendant is a corporation. In an effort to operationalize “corporate crime” we consider, at first, the offenses listed in Decreto-Lei n.º 28/84, dated January 20th, and, secondly, corporations as defendants. To do this, we use document and content analysis, applying a grid for sentencing analysis to all convictions of the courts of first instance of Porto county, which met the defined inclusion criteria (N=66).
It was found that only one legal factor is statistically significant to the fine received by the corporation – the economic situation of the agent –, however, against the advanced hypotheses that its qualification as "aggravating" would lead to a higher fine. Regarding the extralegal factors considered, two are statistically significant: the existence of non-patrimonial damage, that is associated with a higher fine, as predicted; and the reparation of the damage, which is associated with a higher fine, contrary to what was initially predicted. The absence of significant results may be due to the small size of the sample. So, future research should attempt to replicate this investigation to sentences existing in other portuguese counties, issued under the same legal diploma and/or under other laws whose crimes are likely to be considered corporate crimes. The study of corporate crime, particularly its sentencing, has great importance, since knowledge of its punishment will allow the adequacy of public policies related to the phenomenon and will help to harmonize the mixed results of empirical literature.