Accusations of bribery often result in high-profile cases, particularly if the case is international in scope. Bribery may involve high-standing politicians, celebrities or wealthy investors.

However, it is important to understand the nature of a bribery charge. Another, similar charge that is often confused with bribery is extortion. Both crimes often garner a lot of public interest, but they are different in the eyes of the law. According to FindLaw, bribery attempts to coerce the target in a positive way, while extortion attempts to do so in a negative way.

What is bribery?

Essentially, bribery is an exchange of something valuable in order to gain something else of value. This is a very broad definition, but there are some common scenarios. For instance, a businessman may try to offer a high-ranking politician a large sum of money in order to enact policies favorable to the businessman’s financial endeavors.

Another example could include a bookie trying to pay off an athlete in order to “throw” a match entirely or simply not play as well. A corporate example may involve one company paying the employees of another company to give up trade secrets.

Money is commonly used in bribery cases, but it may not be the only incentive. Sometimes bribery can involve other perks.

What is extortion?

On the other hand, extortion involves threats. For instance, a politician may threaten to enact policies that would harm a businessman’s financial interests unless the businessman supports his campaign. Extortion may also involve a third-party requiring a person to pay regular sums of money or risk having incriminating pictures released to the internet or to family and friends.