Bribery is a serious offense. If you are charged and convicted, you might face lengthy jail time and pay huge fines among other legal and personal consequences.
Bribery, at the very basic, involves someone giving or promising a valuable item like money or a gift to a public servant or public official to influence their decision. Both parties could face charges.
An example would be offering money to the police to overlook a crime like drunk driving or offering a judge specified benefits to dismiss a case or give a lighter sentence. Bribery can take multiple forms. However, it’s important to understand that offering or taking a bribe is a serious federal offense.
Elements of bribery
To successfully prosecute bribery, the prosecution must establish the existence of the following elements:
An item of value – There must have been an exchange of (or an attempt to exchange) an object of value. This can be tangible like money or intangible like a promise of a job.
Official act – The bribe in question must have been meant to influence an official act. For instance, a mayor may solicit a bribe to influence the approval of a construction project. Additionally, the recipient of the bribe must be in a position of authority to influence an official act.
Intent and casual connection – finally, the prosecution must prove that there was intent to give or solicit a bribe and that both parties had some form of connection that was more than mere coincidence.
If you are facing bribery charges, you need to start building your defense as soon as possible. Understanding the elements of bribery is a great starting point.