Federal Bribery Charges | Bribery Defense Attorney

The federal government prosecutes individuals who offer or try to give gifts, money, or anything else of value to influence official action. Although state authorities typically bring bribery charges, federal charges can also be levied. This page explains federal bribery charges, their definition, sentence, and how a federal bribery defense attorney can help.

If you or a loved one faces bribery charges, you need a bribery defense attorney to advise you on how to proceed. Contact the Zoukis Consulting Group today. Our network of federal bribery attorneys can develop a strategic and informed defense.

Bribery Charges | Bribery Definition and Sentencing

What is Bribery?

Federal bribery consists of offering gifts or cash to public officials to obtain favorable treatment. Bribery is a crime in the United States at both the state and federal levels. Even though this is not a crime in some foreign countries, it is against U.S. federal law to offer or accept a bribe.

The following are examples of federal bribery:

  • Paying a federal judge for a reduced or less severe criminal sentence
  • Offering a police officer money to refrain from writing a traffic ticket
  • Giving money to federal law enforcement agents to not investigate
  • Providing a lavish gift to a government official in return for preferential treatment

What is Federal Bribery?

Federal bribery’s definition is the offering or accepting of anything of value to a government official or employee in exchange for influence. In general, bribes are provided as gifts or money payments to officials to obtain favorable treatment. Property, valuables, advantages, services, and favors are other forms of bribes.

Federal prosecutors use various laws to prosecute this white-collar crime, including the following corrupt practices:

  • Bribery of a Public Official (18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(1))
  • Illegal Gratuity to a Public Official (18 U.S.C. § 201(c)(1)(A))
  • Receipt of Commissions or Gifts for Procuring Loans (18 U.S.C. § 215(a)(1))
  • Federal Conspiracy (18 U.S.C. § 371)

It is also illegal for public officials to directly or indirectly request, receive, accept, or agree to accept anything of value in return for influence. Likewise, the same applies to executing any official act to commit fraud or help others do so.

Federal Bribery Definition

Bribery’s definition is the offering, giving, soliciting, or receiving anything of value to influence someone who has an official or legal duty. Bribes are employed to advance private interests. Both the person offering and accepting the bribe is subject to prosecution.

Bribery Meaning

Bribery is the crime of offering, giving, or receiving money or another item of value with the corrupt goal of influencing a public official in the performance of their duties. When cash has been given or promised in exchange for a corrupt act, the official concerned need not carry out that action for the offense to complete. The offense is typically punishable as a felony.

Bribery at one time only referred to actions by judges. But, today, it relates to many activities by a wide range of government officials (e.g., local, state, and federal officials). Various jurisdictions have made special provisions prohibiting influencing voters, jurors, witnesses, and other lay participants in official proceedings. Workers’ representative bribery is also illegal in certain jurisdictions (e.g., payoffs to union representatives).

It’s important to know federal bribery’s definition and meaning to ensure you don’t run afoul of federal criminal law.

Types of Federal Bribery

Most federal bribery law is contained within Title 18, Chapter 11 of the United States Code. Numerous federal statutes can attach to conduct involving bribery activities. These specific types of federal bribery carry varying charges, definitions, and sentences.

The different bribery laws differ in briber, actors targeted, and potential penalties. Federal prosecutors must establish each element of the specific law beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a federal criminal defendant.

The following sections profile common types of federal bribery, explaining their definitions and potential sentences.

Bribery of Public Officials (18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(1))

Under 18 U.S.C. 201(b)(1), a person may be convicted of bribing a public official if they give or promise to give anything of value to influence the public official’s performance. This includes influencing an official function or failing to perform an official duty in violation of their professional responsibilities.

A “public official” under this legislation includes any employee, officer, or agent of the United States government acting in their official capacity. Jurors in federal criminal cases are also covered.

In the context of bribery, the word “corrupt” implies that an act was deliberate for an unlawful aim. The phrase “official capacity” refers to a cause or proceeding performed in the public official’s duties.

Bribery of a Witness (18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(3)

It is illegal to bribe a witness under 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(3). Federal prosecutors must prove the individual was a witness under oath at a trial, hearing, or another proceeding.

This includes a court, committee of either house of Congress, or any agency, commission, or officer authorized by the laws of the United States to hear evidence or testimony to convict an alleged offender.

Federal prosecutors must also prove that the criminal defendant provided, offered, or promised something of value to the witness to influence testimony during the proceedings mentioned.

Relatedly, under 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(4), it is illegal for a witness to solicit a bribe. Federal prosecutors must prove the defendant was a witness as defined above and that they requested, accepted, or agreed to receive anything of value in return for having their testimony influenced. This includes the decision not to testify.

Illegal Payment to a Public Official (18 U.S.C. § 201(c))

Under 18 U.S.C. § 201(c)(1)(A), giving or offering anything of value to a public official acting in their official capacity constitutes illegal gratuity. A person may be guilty of offering an illegal gratuity to a public official if they give or offer anything of value to a public official acting in their official capacity directly or indirectly.

There must be a relationship between offering something of value and influencing a particular government action for the gift to be considered bribery. Public officials are defined as officers, employees, or agents of the United States or its departments, agencies, or branches. Federal jurors are also public officials.

Receipt of Commissions or Gifts for Procuring Loans (18 U.S.C. § 215)

Under 18 U.S.C. § 215(a)(1), it is illegal to bribe or reward a bank officer. A defendant may be convicted of federal bribery of a bank officer if they give or offer anything of value to a bank officer involved in a commercial transaction to influence them.

A “bank officer” is defined under federal law as someone who works for a financial institution as an employee, agent, director, or other position comparable to those positions within the company.

Receipt of Commissions or Presents for Procurement of Loans refers to bribing or otherwise illegally influencing a bank official. Sentencing for this federal bribery statute is punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years in federal prison.

Bribery Conspiracy

Federal criminal defendants can be prosecuted for bribery conspiracy if they engage in criminal conduct with another person. This requires at least one scheme participant to engage in an overt act to further the conspiracy.

Co-conspirators must be aware of the unlawful goals of a conspiracy. However, they do not need to know all of the plan’s details or every other individual involved to be found guilty.

Under federal law, a person participating in a conspiracy is considered the agency of all other people involved in the plot. As a result, individuals are held accountable for all acts committed by fellow co-conspirators within the criminal scheme. This is as though they had carried them out on their own.

The illicit aims of the bribery conspiracy do not have to be fully achieved before filing charges. Instead, at least one action in furtherance of the plot must be taken by at least one co-conspirator.

Federal Bribery Elements

Federal prosecutors must show that a defendant violated the federal anti-bribery law by demonstrating that they:

  • Promised, offered, or rendered anything of vale
  • To a federal or state public official
  • Intending to influence the public official to act in a particular manner.

The government official must have received a thing of value in return for the promise to act in a particular manner. Federal prosecutors must prove that there was a quid pro quo agreement, implying that the thing of value was given with the specific corrupt intent to influence the government official’s decision. These elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, as with all federal criminal cases.

Bribery Defense Attorney | Bribery Lawyer

Is Bribery a Federal Crime?

Under federal law, bribery’s definition comprises a wide range of activities. It includes offering and giving things of value to influence the behavior of any person with a public or legal duty. Additionally, it includes receiving and soliciting anything of value to induce someone to perform an official act.

Illegal bribery is distinct from legal gifts, rebates, discounts, or incentives given on an equal basis to a group or class of people without intending to alter behavior in opposition to an established obligation.

Federal Bribery Statute – 18 U.S.C. § 201

Under 18 U.S.C. § 201, it is a crime for anyone directly or indirectly to give, offer, or promise anything of value to a public official. This includes another person designated a public official when the intent is to influence an official act. It’s also unlawful to bribe, persuade, or induce a public official to do or refrain from anything violating their ethical responsibilities.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 201, it is also illegal for a government official to demand, seek, obtain, accept, or agree to accept anything of value personally in exchange for being influenced in the execution of their official duties. This includes committing or assisting in committing fraud or being induced to do or omit any act in violation of their official responsibilities.

Federal Bribery Sentencing

The penalties and sentences for bribery under 18 U.S.C. § 371 can be severe, including hefty fines and lengthy incarceration in federal prison. These punishments are codified in the federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Those convicted of bribery of a public official under 18 U.S.C. § 201(b) face up to 15 years in federal prison. Additionally, a fine of up to three times the value of the bribe is permitted.

The penalties for providing illegal gratuities to a public official include two years in prison and criminal fines. The penalties for bribery or the reward of a bank officer are determined by the amount of money exchanged.

If the amount is more than $1,000, defendants face up to 30 years in federal prison and a criminal penalty of up to $1 million or three times the value given, whichever is greater. If the sum is less than $1,000, judges may sentence defendants to one year in prison and fines.

The penalties for a federal conspiracy differ depending on the underlying offense and the conspirators’ goals. Bribery of public officials generally constitutes a felony, which means a conviction may result in sentencing of up to five years and fines.

Penalties for conspiracy to commit a crime are in addition to the penalties for the underlying offense, which is why they may be more significant. For example, these federal crimes are also typically brought:

If you are charged with the federal crime of bribery under 18 U.S.C. § 201, you require the assistance of a knowledgeable federal criminal defense lawyer to defend against the charges.

A federal criminal charge is not the same as a state-level offense. You need an experienced bribery lawyer to manage the federal case and understand the court procedures in a federal criminal courtroom. Likewise, your federal bribery defense attorney can explain its charges, definition, and sentencing.

The Zoukis Consulting Group can assist you in obtaining a more favorable result if we intervene early in your case. Our federal bribery attorney partners will work with you throughout the criminal investigation and make crucial decisions such as whether or not to collaborate as a witness in the government’s case.

We’ll go through all of the specifics to determine an effective approach for combating bribery charges and mitigating your sentencing. To achieve the best possible outcome, our team will utilize a variety of defenses.

Lack of Evidence

We may dispute whether there is enough evidence to convict. The burden of proof rests with federal prosecutors, who must establish that all criminal elements are met.

Our defense team may be able to expose flaws in the prosecution’s evidence to create reasonable doubt. If we can persuade prosecutors they don’t have sufficient evidence, we may be able to negotiate for a lesser charge or even a case dismissal.

Lack of Intent

When charged with bribery, the prosecutor must show that you had the required criminal intent to commit the crime. Proving intent is often difficult for federal prosecutors. We may argue this point by presenting evidence and arguments to establish that you didn’t have the criminal intent to commit this offense.

Our experience in federal bribery cases allows us to evaluate all viable defenses for your case.

Early Bribery Intervention

In our experience, the sooner defendants obtain competent legal counsel, the more likely they are to secure a favorable result in their cases. People who wait to hire a bribery defense attorney until after charges are filed frequently experience worse case outcomes.

A bribery defense attorney guides clients throughout the criminal process, making critical judgments such as when and how to communicate with prosecutors and whether or not to cooperate.

Federal criminal defense attorneys also handle all interactions between clients and the government, reducing their risk of incrimination or attracting unwanted attention.

Who Investigates These Crimes

Typically, bribery investigations involve government or federal law enforcement inquiries. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) often conducts federal investigations.

Anonymous tips and insider information may lead to a possible bribery investigation. Law enforcement might employ an undercover sting operation to obtain evidence of a potential bribe. Federal prosecutors then charge individuals after gathering evidence.

The United States Attorney’s Office takes over the prosecution once charges are filed. At this point, an Assistant U.S. Attorney is assigned to the case and represent’s the government’s position.

Your Federal Bribery Defense Attorneys

You should immediately contact an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer if you are under investigation for federal bribery charges. Your lawyer will advise you on whether or not to cooperate with investigators, develop a strategic approach to your defense, and explain bribery’s definition and potential sentencing.

Call the Zoukis Consulting Group today for help. Our federal bribery defense attorney local counsel network can ensure your rights are protected and vigorously defend you in federal court.