San Diego Bribery Defense Attorney
Bribery is such a serious offense that even an accusation of the crime can ruin a person’s reputation. If you are convicted of bribery, people will attach words like “corrupt” to your name. A bribery conviction could destroy your professional career.
You need a defense attorney with the professionalism and determination to fight for you and clear your name. At the Law Offices of Stephen G. Cline, we understand the seriousness of a bribery charge. We understand what the stakes are. You potentially stand to lose your professional credibility.
If you or a loved one is charged with bribery in San Diego, call us today at (619) 235-5638 or contact us online. We will always evaluate your case free of charge, and will always be waiting to help Californians like yourself.
What is Bribery?
Bribery in California is defined as an effort to influence someone in a corrupt manner through money or gifts. California Penal Code Sections 67 through 77 deal with bribery cases involving public officials. This can include offering a bribe to any public employee in exchange for any official action.
While many people associate bribery with crooked politicians, bribery law covers the private sector as well. Penal Code Section 641.3 describes commercial bribery.
In order to prove commercial bribery in California, the following be established:
The defendant is an employee who solicits, accepts or agrees to accept money or gifts “corruptly.”
- The gifts were given or offered to encourage an action from the employee to benefit the person offering the bribe.
- The money or gifts total at least $250.
- The money or gifts came from someone other than the employer.
- The employer had no knowledge or consent of the money or gifts.
Bribery can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the situation. A conviction of either can lead to time in the county jail or in state prison.
California Bribery Law
California law applies equally to both the person receiving and soliciting the bribe. Bribery laws apply regardless of whether the bribe was completed. Money does not need to exchange hands. It is illegal to simply offer a bribe.
Defenses to Bribery Charges in California
The job of a bribery defense attorney is to clear your name and reputation. Only an experienced bribery attorney knows the defensive strategies to employ to get you out from under a cloud of suspicion.
Some of the most frequently used bribery defenses in California include:
You had no corrupt intent when you offered or accepted the money or gift.
If there was no corrupt intent, or if the gift was offered or accepted innocently, you cannot be found guilty of bribery.
There was a mistake or misunderstanding.
Perhaps you made a comment that was sarcastic, or perhaps what you said was taken out of context. It’s also possible that you were unaware of the intent of the other person and believed that you were offering or accepting a legitimate gift without nefarious intent.
You were too intoxicated to have corrupt intent.
If you were inebriated at the time of the bribe, an attorney may be able to show that you did not have the mental capacity to meet the corruption required by the law. This does not mean, however, that someone can purposely get drunk and then agree to bribes. But it does mean that if someone got you drunk for the purpose of talking you into a bribe, you may have a valid defense. But it will require the help of an experienced bribery attorney.
The statute of limitations has passed.
While not exactly a defense, it’s important to note that there is a statute or limitations on bribery cases. If a bribery crime is punishable by eight or more years in jail, prosecutors must file charges in six years. For all other cases, charges must be filed within three years. Once these time limits have passed, you cannot be charged. A defense attorney’s job is to make sure prosecutors follow the letter of the law.
What is the Punishment for Bribery in California?
Bribes in which the alleged money or gifts involved amounts of $250 to $1,000 are misdemeanors under California law. This means that if the bribe is $1,000 or less, the defendant can be sentenced to up to a year in jail.
- For bribes that exceed $1,000, felony charges can be brought. Defendants found guilty of felony bribery cases in California can be sentenced to up three years in prison.
- Under California’s penal code, any bribe of an executive officer in the state can be punishable by up to four years in prison. That person will also be disqualified from holding elected office in California.
- Any bribe of a ministerial officer, employee, or appointee of the State of California, county, political subdivision, or city in the state can be found guilty of a misdemeanor.
- Any executive or ministerial officer, employee or appointee of the state or its municipalities that uses his or her vote, opinion or action as part of a bribe can be sentenced to up to four years in prison in addition, to losing his or her ability to run for public office.
There is another punishment beyond the actual sentence: the reputation and careers of those involved.
What is Bribery of California Legislators and Elected Officials (California Penal Code Section 85)?
Penal Code Section 85 defines a bribe as: any person giving or offering a legislator something worth value with intent to influence legislative work. This covers legislative bodies at the state, county or city level, as well as school districts.
What is California Penal Code Section 86 (Bribes by Legislators)?
Under Section 86 PC, it is unlawful for legislators to receive or consent to receive something worth value with intent to influence legislative work.
What is Bribery of County Supervisors or Public Corporations (California Penal Code Section 165)?
People covered by Section 165 PC include supervisors, council members, city board of trustee members and public corporation members.
What is Bribery of Executive Officers or Public Employees (Section 67 PC)?
A person violates Penal Code Section 67 when he or she bribes an executive officer. This includes prosecutors, police officers, police investigators and police chiefs.
What is Section 68 PC (Bribery by Officers and Public Employees)?
Penal Code Section 68 is violated when an executive officer or public employee has committed a bribe. To satisfy the penal code, the executive or public employee receives or consents to receive something worth value with the intent to influence the officer’s nature or work.
What is Bribery of Judge and Jurors (California Penal Code Section 92)?
Section 92 PC applies to someone looking to influence a judge or juror. In order for someone to be charged with this offense, he or she must give a judge or a juror something worth value with the intent of influencing the juror or judge.
What is Bribery of Judge and Jurors (Section 93 PC)?
Penal Code Section 93 exists for the officers – judges, jurors, referees, arbitrators or umpires — who accept something of value in exchange for the influence of their work.
What is Bribery of Witnesses Dealing with Testimony (California Penal Code Section 137)?
When someone bribes or attempts to bribe a witness in regards to his or her testimony in a case, Penal Code Section 137 applies.
What is Bribery of Witness Dealing with Trial Presence (Section 138 PC)?
Penal Code Section 138 deals with someone who commits a bribe involving someone actually appearing in court. That person must have given the witness something of value with the intent of influencing someone coming to court.
Contact a Bribery Defense Attorney Today
Because bribery cases often involve an alleged violation of public trust, prosecutors and judges will always be especially tough when going after bribery suspects. That’s yet another reason why you need an experienced white collar crime attorney at your side who has defended people in your situation.
Whether you are a businessman, a politician or a regular government worker, you stand to be labeled as a corrupt felon if you don’t fight these bribery charges vigorously. Our defense attorneys can do that for you.
Our San Diego defense team is ready to help. If you or a loved one is involved in a bribery or bribery-related case in San Diego, call us today at (619) 235-5638
or contact us online. We will always evaluate your case free of charge.