What is Bribery and Corruption Law?
Bribery and Corruption Law refers to the area of law which focuses on crimes that are committed when individuals or organizations make illegal payments to public officials or if a person or official general requests, demands, or accepts bribes.
Bribery and corruption law consists of the criminal rules for dealing with those who attempt to buy influence with public officials and other decision-makers. The crime of bribery encompasses a broad scope of wrongful conduct. It covers bribes of cash, assets, services, favors, or anything else of value, whether delivered presently or in the future. Bribes can occur directly or indirectly through third parties to disguise the true nature of the transaction. Even if a transaction is never completed, the mere offering or soliciting of a bribe is enough to incur criminal liability.
It is essential to provide general enforcement that bribery and corruption conduct is clearly defined so that both the public and enforcers operate according to the same understanding. Every effort should be made to prevent and punish conduct falling under separate but similar regulatory regimes.
The crime of giving or receiving bribes is a serious business and can be punished severely. A defendant can be charged with either offering or accepting a bribe. Bribery can occur in countless situations, and many defendants have been caught trying to influence government officials, police officers, union leaders, and board members to give contracts to a company. Even sports referees and umpires have been convicted of accepting bribes.
Common Issues in a Bribery Case
Many defendants charged with bribery, particularly those who are unfamiliar with the criminal justice system, are often confused about the nature of the crime, as well as the applicable penalties. While bribery crimes may be worded in any number of ways, the essential elements of the crime vary little among jurisdictions. Most importantly, the criminal the statute requires an evidentiary showing that the defendant intended a bribe to influence the recipient's conduct as a public official.
Activities such as giving gifts to a public official or offering money can seem innocent until proven otherwise. Giving or accepting bribes is illegal and, if found guilty, can lead to criminal consequences.
The circumstances of an offer or acceptance of a cash payment to a state or local government official can alter the nature of this offense from a misdemeanor to a felony. If government property, procurement contracts, or investment are involved, these additional elements of the crime change the nature of the offense from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Whether on or off the clock, the ethical dilemmas in white-collar and federal bribery crimes and statutes are pervasive.
The U.S. Criminal Code, Title 18, 201, defines the crime of bribery in broad terms. As a federal crime, this offense has harsh penalties and is explicitly designed to dissuade people from engaging in the practice.
Criminal Defense Strategies
The careful observer will note that all evidence collected is forbidden fruit that should be suppressed, except that the evidence used must be collected "lawfully." The prohibition against warrantless searches and the admissibility of evidence found in those searches has been welded into our jurisprudence by countless Fourth Amendment cases over the past 200+ years.
It is easy to see why one of the most fundamental rights is protected by our Constitution. The Framers wanted tyranny to be defeated forever and viewed the untrammeled right of the people to be armed as a critical weapon in that battle.
Another defense strategy in bribery cases is to discredit the testimony of those involved in the scheme or who have firsthand knowledge of the events. In this strategy, defense attorneys attack the credibility of witnesses on cross-examination by pointing out prior inconsistent statements and bias. They seek to create a lack of trust with jurors by presenting evidence that they cannot believe the witness. By doing so, a lawyer can manipulate a jury's perception of the validity of a witness's testimony.
If you think the police violated your right to fair treatment, a lawyer is a person to call. Even if officers have incriminating evidence against you, a good lawyer can defend you by putting the case into a different perspective.
Allegations of bribery can ruin your career and professional reputation. If you are convicted, you can face fines, jail time, and a lifetime of humiliation.