The Lasting Effects Of A Bribery Conviction
The idea that someone placed in a special position of trust by their community could misplace that trust by getting caught up in a bribery or kickback scheme can significantly affect their reputation. Unfortunately, we see these types of stories far too often, where a mayor or government employee promises to do something in return for money or gifts.
While our justice system prides itself on the idea of “innocent until proven guilty,” a bribery allegation has the potential to blur this concept in the public’s mind. That is why it is critical for someone facing a bribery allegation or charge to contact experienced defense counsel early on in the process. With the heightened public interest in a bribery case, an attorney can serve as an essential source of advice when crafting your defense and communicating with the media.
At the Law Offices of Peter Katz, I offer a free consultation and can advise you as to the scope of the charges, the stakes and your legal defense options. Call 609-900-2648 to arrange a meeting with me, attorney Peter Katz.
The Bribery Statute
Title 18 U.S.C. Section 201 establishes the crime of bribery. Under this offense, it is illegal for any federal public official to demand, seek, receive or accept anything of value in return for:
- Being influenced in the performance of any “official act”
- Being influenced to commit any fraud on the U.S.
- Being induced to do or omit to do any act in violation of the official’s public duty
Additionally, the bribery statute bars any person from giving, offering or promising anything of value to any federal public official with the intent to:
- Influence any official act
- Influence any public official to commit a fraud on the United States
- Induce any public official to do or omit to do any act in violation of the official’s public duty
Bribery charges can be coupled with conspiracy charges. Conspiracy does not require an act to have been committed; the prosecution must only prove intent.
What Is An ‘Official Act?’
What constitutes an “official act” in bribery cases remains a popular topic of discussion among legal scholars. In Valdes v. the United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit interpreted “official act” as “any decision or action within the scope of the public official’s authority.” More recently, in McDonnell v. the United States, the Supreme Court of the United States interpreted the federal bribery statute’s definition of “official act” narrowly, restricting its reach to formal exercises of governmental power.
Penalties For Bribery
The penalties for a bribery conviction are significant. Not only can one face a federal prison term of up to 15 years and a fine of up to three times the bribe’s value, but they can also face disqualification from holding a public office. And punishment under the law does not take into account the reputational harm that comes with a federal conviction. In addition to the possible prison sentence and fines, you might lose your opportunity to both work for and do business with the government as well. Government employees may also lose their federal pensions. I have helped clients in the successful defense of white collar charges such as bribery.
Importance Of Legal Counsel
If you or someone you know faces a federal bribery charge, do not delay hiring experienced defense counsel. The earlier an attorney gets involved, the better one’s defense can be. Not only can legal counsel begin building the case, but they can handle issues related to subpoenas and inquiries from investigators and the media. But, most importantly, they can work to ensure that your rights are protected. With so much on the line – your reputation, livelihood and personal relationships – having an attorney fighting on your behalf can give you peace of mind knowing that someone has your back.
Get The Legal Representation You Need When Facing Bribery Charges
My experience as first a successful prosecutor and now an established defense attorney means I have a comprehensive understanding of the law. I know how it can work for and against you. Let’s discuss how we can improve your outcome with effective defense. Call the Law Offices of Peter Katz at 609-900-2648 or contact me online to begin preparing your defense today. I represent clients in New York and New Jersey.