If you attempt to influence a public official in California, you could be charged with bribery. However, there are many elements to a bribery case that must be proven if the state hopes to convict you of the charge. Depending on the facts of a case, you could be vulnerable to prosecution if you were the party asking for a bribe.
Were you dealing with a public official?
If the person who you were trying to influence wasn’t a public official, it may be difficult to prove that bribery occurred. A public official can be someone who was appointed to his or her position or elected to serve his or her constituents. It is also illegal to attempt to sway officials who represent foreign countries.
Did you intend to bribe anyone?
As a general rule, you can’t be guilty of a crime if had no intention of violating the law. For example, making a donation to a politician’s campaign in hopes that this person will vote on a piece of legislation generally won’t rise to the level of bribery. This is because it can be argued that the politician would have voted the same way regardless of what you did. If a prosecutor can’t prove that there is a causal link between your actions and the actions of a public official, it’s less likely that you’ll face any legal consequences.
A bribery conviction may result in jail or prison time, a fine or other negative consequences. It may be possible to cast doubt on witness testimony, video footage or other evidence used to justify charging you with this crime. This may be enough to have evidence suppressed, which may make it easier to have the case dismissed or to obtain an acquittal after a trial.