As a Fresno criminal defense law firm, we are often asked a number of different questions about what the law has to say about certain charges. In the case of bribery charges, people often come to us wondering whether or not someone can be charged with bribery if they simply never accepted the remuneration that composed the bribe. To answer this in more detail, we’ll need to take a closer look at what California law has to say about this crime, but to make the answer simple: no, you do not need to accept any remuneration in order to be guilty of bribery. Merely considering the offer or allowing an offer to unjustly influence your decisions is enough to warrant a conviction.
California Bribery Laws
In the state of California, bribery is a heavily prosecuted offense that’s covered in California Penal Code Section 7. The law defines a bribe as “anything of value or advantage, present or prospective, or any promise or undertaking to give any, asked, given, or accepted, with a corrupt intent to influence, unlawfully, the person to whom it is given, in his or her action, vote, or opinion, in any public or official capacity.” In other words, bribery is exchanging money or other remuneration with someone in exchange for favorable influence. Most of the time, bribery is usually focused around public officials of nearly every sort, ranging from city councilmembers to high-ranking members of both the state and federal governments.
Therefore, there are actually two sides to bribery: the one who offers a bribe, and the one who accepts a bribe. On this blog, we’re more concerned with the latter. It’s fairly common for those accused of bribery to try and defend themselves by saying they never actually accepted the bribe so it couldn’t have influenced their decision. However, this isn’t necessarily always true: sometimes the mere offer of a bribe is enough to influence a decision, and thus someone can still be found guilty of bribery under California laws.
This is known as an “inferred” bribe. Essentially, an inferred bribe is one where no property or recompense actually changes hands before the influenced decision is made, but instead is done with the assumption that the remuneration will come after. Those who are particularly familiar with the practice of accepting bribes often use these types of arrangements because they’re more difficult to catch and even more difficult to prove. However, regardless of whether money has changed hands, the law says that someone who was influenced in this way can be found guilty of bribery.
Furthermore, bribery doesn’t always have to mean the remuneration needs to come in the form of money. While money is the most often-used bribe, things like special favors, special consideration, interests, luxury items, vacations, or special treatment are all things that could be used to try and bribe someone to make a decision.
If you have been charged with the crime of bribery, you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to a Fresno criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The penalties for a guilty conviction are immense and could even be life-changing.
Bribery is a serious crime, and bribery of or by a public official is usually a felony that can land you in jail for anywhere from two to four years. Furthermore, public officials who have been found guilty of bribery or of accepting a bribe will likely be forced to resign from their office and are no longer allowed to run for public service again.Call The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch today at (559) 484-2112 to request more information or schedule a case evaluation!