Bribery is a crime that occurs behind closed doors and in secret. The act of bribing another person involves the offering of money or favors in exchange for benefiting from the power of that person's position.
Bribery may involve a public official or politician who receives money under the table from someone who wants to receive a special favor. Ultimately, both the person who offers a bribe and the person who accepts the bribe can face these criminal charges.
What's required to prove bribery?
At its core, bribery is simple: Someone offers a thing of value in exchange for something else of value. Often, the favor given in exchange for a bribe is political influence. It might involve a corrupt judge who gives a certain ruling in exchange for a bribe. Or, it could involve a police officer who agrees to look the other way while someone commits a crime.
In terms of bribery charges that prosecutors try in federal court, there are specific elements that must be present in order for a bribery charge to stick. Those elements are:
- The person who receives the bribe was a public official -- including elected officials and federal employees.
- The person offering the bribe offers something of value. It could be cash, the promise of support or some other favor.
- The person receiving the bribe does something in exchange for the bribe. Perhaps a senator agrees to vote in favor of a pending law.
- The public official who receives the bribe has the power to carry out the "official act."
- The bribing party has a specific intent.
- A causal relationship exists between the "bribe" and the "official act." This causal relationship is more than simply a suspicious coincidence.
Bribery allegations can be devastating for the accused person's career
For any public official or public employee, a bribery accusation can mean the end of the individual's career. If prosecutors are able to convict someone of bribery, it will have devastating effects on the individual's reputation and future employment prospects. It could also result in criminal punishments and even jail time. As such, if you've been accused of bribery, you will want to defend yourself against the allegations carefully and cautiously.