If you are accused of bribery, you are facing a serious legal problem. This criminal offense may be filed in either state or federal court, and involves an accusation that you offered, gave, solicited, or received any item of value to influence the actions another person who holds a public or legal duty. Both the person offering the bribe and receiving the bribe typically face charges in this offense.
Acts of Bribery: Types of Crimes
For criminal charges of bribery to be filed, law enforcement must have evidence that a relationship existed between the two parties, and an exchange of some item of value, whether money, services, trips, valuable contracts, or other types of exchanges were arranged to influence the actions or decisions of a public official or witness in a legal case. Some common types of bribery charges include, but are not limited to:
- Public Official Bribery: This offense involves offering something of value to a public official, such as a judge, police officer, or other official, to sway their actions to favor the party offering the bribe.
- Witness Bribery: If a witness in a legal case accept a bribe and alters his or her testimony in return, this is a criminal act carrying heavy penalties.
- Foreign Official Bribery: Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, any USA corporation that offers a bribe to a foreign official to attempt to gain some advantage can face charges in federal court.
- Sports Bribes: A professional in sports, whether a player or official, who accept a bribe to alter the outcome of a game will be federally charged.
- Kickbacks: If an individual or corporate entity kicks back some amount of money to gain a lucrative contract or offers benefits to medical professionals to increase the numbers of prescriptions for a specific drug or medication can be charged with bribery.
Defending Charges of Bribery in Houston: The Next Step
If you are accused of committing bribery or are under investigation for this crime, you must engage legal representation immediately. The early stages of a bribery case offer specific opportunities to alter the course of the case. If you have already been charged, you need a white-collar crime attorney with extensive experience and knowledge to help you defend your case. Several defenses that may be effective include:
- Establishing that no “quid quo pro” relationship existed between the two parties.
- Establishing that an exchange of goods or services did not constitute bribery.
- Establishing that monies exchanged were not kickbacks but legitimate payments.
Federal Bribery Charges
The penalties for bribery convictions in federal court are extensive:
- Up to $250,000 in fines for a single act of bribery, along with up to five years in federal prison.
- For violations of corruption related to accounting and record keeping, fines can be up to $5 million dollars, and 20 years of incarceration in federal prison.
- Corporations face penalties up to $2 million per violation, or up to twice the benefit the company hoped to obtain through an illegal payment.
Texas State Bribery Charges
Under the Texas Penal Code, a person can be charged with bribery if he or she intentionally or knowingly offers, or agrees to give another, solicits, or accepts from another any of the following:
- A benefit in a decision, opinion, vote, or other action by a public servant.
- A benefit in a decision in the judicial or administrative systems benefitting the person offering the bribe.
- A benefit gained through offering a political contribution to a public servant or political party official.
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