What is bribery?

Under most state criminal codes, bribery is a crime involving the corruption of public officials. Anyone who gives a public servant money or other valuables in exchange for services in a specified way or any public servant who accepts money or other valuables to act in a specified way is guilty of bribery.The public servant can be any government official or employee, including the mayor, a councilman, a city controller, police officer, or judge, who provides a service beyond what is expected or required in the normal performance of his duties in exchange for the valuable. For example, a city controller who accepts money from a construction company in exchange for awarding it a contract that would otherwise go to the lowest bidder, as required, is guilty of bribery.

Non-Monetary Bribery

For bribery to be charged, the valuable exchanged does not have be only money. Anything that has value to the recipient, including personal favors, all expenses paid vacations and cars, to name a few, can be exchanged. For bribery to be conclusively established, however, the valuable has to be given with the understanding that a service will be performed. Bribery is different in this regard from a gift, which is given without any expectation of a service being provided in return. It is also different from a tip that is given in recognition of good service.

Bribery and Private Parties

More recently, the crime of bribery has been extended in some jurisdictions to include exchanges between private individuals. For example, a boxer who is paid to throw a fight can be found guilty of bribery. Likewise, corporate officers can be found guilty of bribery if they accept money to act in a manner inconsistent with their company's interests.

If charged with bribery, suspecting bribery, or offered a bribe, contact an experienced criminal attorney for assistance.