Bribery refers to offering or accepting anything valuable in exchange for being able to influence a government employee or public official. A bribe can be a gift presented or a monetary payment made to secure a government contract or award, for example. Bribes can also involve services, privileges, property or goods.
Being taken into custody for engaging in bribery can understandably be frightening, as you may not understand how such a criminal charge will affect you long term. However, you have the right to fight this federal charge vigorously in New York.
Purpose of a bribe
The intent behind bribery is to change or influence a public official's actions. A written agreement is not necessary to prove this type of crime. However, the prosecution in a bribery case typically needs to be able to demonstrate corrupt intent and that there was actually an agreement -- for instance, a taped telephone call between the two parties might be enough evidence. In many situations, both parties involved in bribery -- the person making an offer and the person accepting an offer -- may face charges.
Prosecutors at the federal level use several elements to prosecute bribery cases:
- The person being offered a bribe is a government/public official.
- Something of value was offered; this could be something intangible, such as official support, or something tangible, such as money.
- The bribe might influence an official act -- for instance, legislation that is pending.
- The bribed public official may commit this official act due to his or her authority/power.
- The person offering the bribe did so with the intent of achieving a particular result.
- The payment made as part of the bribe influenced the official act.
What to do
Even though bribery is not necessarily a violent crime, you may still face a long prison sentence along with a large fine if you end up with a conviction.
If you face a bribery charge, an attorney can scrutinize the evidence that the federal government plans to furnish to support this charge, with the goal of finding holes in their case. With an attorney's help, you may be able to eliminate your charge altogether. The attorney will push for the most personally favorable outcome for you in addition to ensuring that your rights remain protected during the criminal proceedings.