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When is bribery a federal crime?

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2024 | Federal Criminal Defense

Bribery is the act of offering, promising or giving something of value to another person in exchange for something else. The person who accepts the bribe uses their position or authority to influence an outcome. Offering the bribe and accepting the bribe are both crimes.

Bribery can occur in both public and private settings. If an individual working for a private company accepts a bribe in return for using their job title or position to benefit the briber, it is “commercial bribery.” While it is indeed a criminal offense, it is not necessarily a federal offense.

Bribery is illegal under federal law when it involves a public official, such as a government employee or elected official, and when it affects interstate commerce. Those with considerable wealth and resources could ultimately influence the policies and decisions that govern the state and country. They could sway decisions for their own benefit and personal gain instead of the public’s best interests.

How bribery can occur

Bribery can occur in various situations. You may not even realize that you were already committing the crime. For instance, you might be facing charges for allegedly offering a bribe to:

  • Expedite a government process
  • Obtain confidential information
  • Sway a legal decision
  • Influence legislative action

Any such exchange with a federal official is illegal when it is done to gain an improper advantage. The person offering the bribe and the official accepting it must have a corrupt intent. It is not just about money changing hands; it is about the purpose behind the exchange. If you did not intend to engage in bribery, you may be able to avoid conviction.

Misunderstandings happen all the time. If you honestly and reasonably believed the offer or acceptance of the bribe was appropriate, then you should start working on your defense.