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Civil Judicial Actions vs. Criminal Actions

The EPA has several types of enforcement actions against potential violators. Civil Administrative Actions are non-judicial enforcement actions taken by EPA or a state under its own authority, without involving a judicial court process. An administrative action by EPA or a state agency may be in the form of:

  • A notice of violation or a Superfund notice letter, or
  • An administrative order or order (either with or without penalties) directing an individual, a business, or other entity to take action to come into compliance, or to clean up a site.

Civil Judicial Actions are formal lawsuits, filed in court, against persons or entities that have failed to comply with statutory or regulatory requirements, with an administrative order, or who owe EPA response costs for cleaning up a Superfund site. These cases are filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of EPA and, in regulatory cases, by the State's Attorneys General for the states as well.

Criminal Actions can occur when EPA or a state enforce against an entity or person through a criminal action, depending on the nature and severity of the violation. Criminal actions are usually reserved for the most serious violations, those that are willful, or knowingly committed. A court conviction can result in the imposition of fines or imprisonment.

If you are involved in an EPA enforcement action or believe you may be in violation of the law, know your rights and responsibilities. For more information about civil judicial actions vs. criminal actions, contact the Goosmann Law Firm online or call (855) 909-4442.