California law defines bribery as “offering, giving, or taking something of value, with corrupt intent, in order unlawfully to influence a person in any public or official capacity.” A conviction brings significant penalties, including fines and potentially time in jail. Let's get a better idea of bribery and the problems it could cause if you are convicted.
Offering someone something of value, or the promise of something in the future, to influence their actions and decisions is considered bribery. In some cases, courts in California will charge both the person accused of bribery and the person who accepted the bribe with a crime. Sometimes, bribes are monetary. However, it is more common for them to be gifts, goodwill, and promises.
For the prosecution to get a conviction, they must prove several things to the court. First, they have to verify that someone offered something of value. They also need to show that there was corrupt and wrongful intent of the bribery. It also needs to involve an official matter.
California statutes Penal Codes 67 PC and 68 PC say that bribery by or of an executive officer is a felony. An executive officer would be a government official who uses discretion when acting in their job capacity. An example of someone considered an executive officer would be a police officer.
Penal Codes 85 PC and 86 PC make bribery by or of a legislator a criminal offense punishable by two, three, or four years. Legislators would include members of city or county legislative bodies, members of school district legislative bodies, or state legislators.
Penal Codes 92 PC and 93 PC state that bribery of a judge is a felony. The same is true of jurors and others who have the authorization to hear a legal matter. Penal Codes 137 PC and 138 PC cover bribery of witnesses of a crime. In contrast, Penal Code 165 PC includes bribery of county boards of supervisors. Penal Code 641.3 PC defines commercial bribery as when an employee takes a bribe for using their position to benefit others.
Bribery that is a misdemeanor will not result in prison time but may lead to sentencing of six months to a year in county jail. In felony cases, the category of corruption charges and the value of gifts determine jail time and the total amount in fines.
Public officials who bribe or take bribes may need to resign if convicted. It will also destroy credibility among peers and the public.
Bribes that have been offered but have yet to be received could include fines of up to $10,000, and the bribe amount will need to be repaid. This will be the amount of $2,000, whichever is higher.
Many people do not fully understand bribery laws and may inadvertently commit bribery. This inadvertence could be used as a defense if proven they acted without criminal intent. In other cases, it might be possible to show that the accused was entrapped, which could happen in the event of a police sting conducted appropriately.
Of course, there are also cases where someone has been falsely accused of bribery. Someone might be trying to take revenge. It is also possible that the accusation was a mistake. Other defenses include duress or intoxication.
What type of defense would work best for you? Each case varies, and you will want to be sure you aren’t trying to defend yourself in these cases.
If you have been accused and charged with bribery, get in touch with an experienced attorney soon. The sooner you get in touch with a bribery lawyer, the sooner you can start putting your defense together. Take the time to get in touch with Gasner Law today by calling 415-782-6000.