Bribery involves offering something that holds value to someone else in order to influence an action or decision. The state of California and the federal government categorize these actions as commercial bribery when they take place in a business setting.
California’s definition of commercial bribery
California defines commerical bribery under Penal Code 641.3. Under this code, commercial bribery applies to employees who solicit or accept something of value from someone other than their employer. The employee accepts these bribes on the condition of using their professional position to benefit another individual.
Additional qualifications for commercial bribery in California include:
• Employee must act with corrupt intent.
• Employee must know that the act is illegal.
• The money or valuable item’s worth totals more than $250.
• Your employer must not consent or know about the gift.
• Your actions may provide an undue advantage to the person providing the money.
Federal commercial bribery
Some acts of commercial bribery may involve federal institutions. Others may cross state lines. In both instances, the offense violates federal law, specifically Chapter 11, Section 208 of the U.S. Code. Bank employees accepting bribes would fall under federal commercial bribery, as would any type of bribery involving the U.S. postal service.
Penalties for commercial bribery
Commercial bribery involving less than $1,000 typically results in a misdemeanor offense. These charges involve up to one year in a county jail. If the commercial bribe’s value involves an amount greater than $1,000, the courts may charge you with a felony. Convictions of felony commercial bribery result in up to three years of state prison time.
Getting past commercial bribery charges
California and federal commercial bribery laws may involve steep penalties. However, these laws also allow defendants to prove that their actions did not meet the legal definitions of the crime. Having a thorough understanding of the legal statutes allows you to begin a strong defense against the allegations.