Houston Federal Bribery Lawyer


The Federal Bribery Statute, 18 U.S.C. § 201(b) defines the act of bribery as:


  1. Directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official, or person who has been selected to be a public official, or offers or promises any public official or any person who has been selected to be a public official to give anything of value to any other person or entity, with intent –
  • To influence any official act; or
  • To influence such public official or person who has been selected to be a public official to commit or aid in committing, or collude in, or allow, any fraud, or make opportunity for the commission of any fraud, on the United States; or
  • To induce such public official or such person who has been selected to be a public official to do or omit to do any act in violation of the lawful duty of such official or person;”

Elements Of A Federal Bribery Charge

In order to prove that a person violated the federal statute on bribery, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant:

  • Gave, offered, or promised something of value
  • To a public official
  • With the corrupt intent to influence an official act

The prosecutor must show that there was a quid pro quo meaning that the thing of value was given with the specific corrupt intent to influence an official act.

Punishment for Federal Bribery

A person convicted on charges of federal bribery may be fined, or imprisoned for not more than fifteen (15) years, or both.

Acceptance of a Bribe by a Public Official

The federal bribery statute also prohibits the acceptance of a bribe by a public official.  Under 18 U.S.C § 201(b)(2), a public official who “directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value” may be guilty of receiving a bribe and punished with imprisonment, a fine, or both.

Under this statute, a prosecutor must show that the defendant:

  • Demanded, sought, or received something of value
  • While there were serving as a public official; and
  • Did so with the corrupt intent of being influenced in the performance of an official act.

18 U.S.C. § 201 (b) also makes it unlawful to bribe a witness or for a witness to solicit a bribe in exchange for their testimony or lack thereof.


A separate but related charge includes the offering and acceptance of gratuities to a public official.  As with bribery charges, the prosecutor must show that the gratuity offered or accepted was a thing of value and only applies to federal public officials.  Unlike bribery charges, there is no requirement of “a quid pro quo or a corrupt intent to influence an official act.”  Additionally, the federal statute on gratuities (18 U.S.C. § 201(c)) requires that it be paid personally to the public official.


If you have been charged with bribery, in Houston, TX, you need legal representation you can count on.  Attorney James Alston is a former federal prosecutor who will not hesitate to take your case to trial.  He understands the toll that federal charges can take on you and your family. He will walk you through the legal process and fight hard to protect your freedom.  Contact James Alston Law at (713) 228-1400 for more information and to get your case started today.