Corruption is seen as a large breach of public trust. One form of corruption that often leads to criminal penalties is bribery. With bribery, the individual accused of bribery offers something of value in exchange for the public official acting in a particular manner. This is illegal in all states and you will need help from a criminal defense attorney if you are accused of bribery.
Which Public Officials Can You Not Bribe
In the past, bribery only referred to the giving of money to judges to receive a particular ruling. However, over time, bribery has expanded to include a broader range of types of public officials. Bribery can be something as minor as offering an official a free meal at a restaurant. It can also come in the form of a promise that the official or a family member of the official may receive a job in the future.
Even if it turns out that the official would not be able to perform the favor, this doesn't mean that you would not be considered guilty of bribery. Also, the official may reject the offer of a bribe and then report your action to the police.
Defenses Against an Accusation of Bribery
One common defense is that the actions taken are simply how business is normally done. For example, you may give a free meal to all customers under certain circumstances and the free meal to the public official was simply a typical promotional deal.
Also, you may argue that you did not receive anything that wasn't available to the general public. For example, if you ask for information that the public could easily access, the thing of value that was offered might not be considered a bribe but merely a gift.
Penalties for Bribes
If you are convicted of bribery, you may receive a prison term of a year or more. If you are engaging in commercial bribery, you may receive a less serious penalty and some states do not even criminalize this form. If the other party chooses to accept the bribe, they might be removed from their position.
Because of the consequences that can result from bribery, it's important to speak with a criminal defense attorney who has experience handling these types of cases. Whether or not you were engaged in bribery can easily be disputed when you take into account the context in which you were giving the favor or gift. Contact a criminal defense attorney for more information.