The Kaufman Law Group

Transactions made off the books can land you in prison

On Behalf of | Oct 14, 2021 | Bribery

Employees who stealthily offer or receive something valued at more than $1,000 in exchange for a benefit can be charged with commercial bribery. If such a fraudulent transaction is conducted without the employer’s permission or knowledge, it is an illegal act with consequences of incarceration. Kickbacks, as they are commonly known, have far-reaching consequences in the state of California and could subject both the offerer and the beneficiary to prison time.

What is bribery?

A bribe occurs when an employee or agent offers something of value with a corrupt intent to unduly benefit the participants. Bribery also includes inducements. If an outsider seeks to fraudulently bribe an insider without going the route of customary business transactions, he or she could be charged accordingly. Commercial bribery involves a deliberate action to assert undue influence in illegal contractual agreements, and both parties are culpable. Violating California Code, Penal Code-PEN §641.3 is an intentional act of corruption purposely intended to defraud an employer.

Punishment is meted out according to the value of the bribery. A misdemeanor conviction and imprisonment of up to one year in jail can result if the bribed goods or intelligence values more than $1,000. If more than that, it becomes a felony punishable by up to three years in state prison.


Fighting a bribery charge involves disproving the elements that make up the definition of bribery. The defendant can argue that their employer was aware of their actions, thus refuting the employer’s lack of knowledge of the exchange. They could also mount a defense by proving that the element of fraud was missing from the transaction, and they did not intend to injure the company in any way. Furthermore, if the bribed commodity is worth less than $250, it is not punishable by law.

Bribery can negatively impact the futures of those who are convicted of this crime. If the charges were the result of a misunderstanding, it’s important for defendants to clearly present their cases in court.

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Gary Jay Kaufman
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