Bribery is a serious crime, and those who commit bribery may face lengthy jail time and other consequences. However, there is often confusion around whether an act or agreement qualifies as bribery, and this can land a person in legal hot water very quickly.
If you or someone you know stands accused of bribery, or if you have concerns about an agreement, it is wise to consult with a legal professional who understands the specifics of the law here in New York. With a careful examination of your circumstances through the lens of the law, you may find that you have more legal defense opportunities than you expected.
What counts as bribery?
Bribery can take many forms, and at its most basic, it is simply exchanging a thing of value for something else of value, with the intent to break the law doing so. Often, bribes involve one party offering another party something of value in return for favorable treatment or for influence over that party’s behavior.
It is important to understand the difference between bribery and extortion. Bribery involves offering something of value to achieve a specific outcome, where both parties gain from the agreement. Extortion, on the other hand, involves threatening harm to some other party in order to gain influence or compliance.
Bribery involving a federal official
The federal government maintains a number of guidelines that it uses when prosecuting cases of bribery involving a federal official. An act of federal bribery includes:
- At least one public official in the service of the federal government
- An offer of something of value to the public official
- An “official act” that the offer may influence
- The federal official possesses the power to commit the official act
- Intent by the bribing party to obtain a specific result with the bribe
- Causality between the payment and the influenced action
If you suspect that your circumstances may fulfill these elements of bribery, then you must begin building a strong legal defense as soon as possible. It is also important to remember that it is never wise to discuss these issues with anyone who is not your legal counsel. Even your close friends and family members may have to testify against you if you involve them in the matter.
Building a strong bribery defense takes time and attention to detail, so do not wait to begin protecting your future today.