Crime Overview Bribery

In legal terms, bribery is described as the act of accepting or offering something of value, such as money, in return for a certain action or influence on a government official. Bribes can take many different forms, but are always intended to influence or alter the action of various individuals. Bribery goes hand in hand with both political and public corruption.

According to law, both the recipient of the bribe and the provider of the bribe can be charged with the offense of bribery. A bribe may be a gift given to someone in exchange for certain action or influence. Other forms of bribes may include property, various goods, privileges, services and favors. However, the most common bribes are given as currency.

Bribery occurs on all levels of the government within the United States as well as in other countries. Unfortunately, a large number of bribes each year go undetected, resulting in no charges or convictions upon the guilty parties.

The different levels and types of bribery are clearly defined under United States law. The first type is the bribery by or of a public official, who is someone who acts on behalf of the United States, such as a juror or a senator. The intention of the bribe is to influence the action of the official in the discharge of their public or legal duties – in other words, a bribe might be given to a senator to encourage them to vote a certain way on a bill, or to a juror in order to solicit a particular outcome in a trial. A public official who is convicted of bribery will be fined three times the amount of the bribe and/or imprisoned for no longer than 15 years. The public official will also not be allowed thereafter to hold any government or political office in the United States.

The next type of a bribe is by/of a witness. A witness will receive a fine of three times the amount of the bribe and/or up to 15 years in prison if they accept a bribe for them to alter a testimony. The briber themselves will face a fine and up to two years in prison.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 1977 makes it unlawful for a United States citizen, as well as certain foreign issuers of securities, to pay a foreign official in order to obtain business with any person. In 1998 a provision to the Act was added which applies to any foreign firms or foreign-born persons who take any act in furtherance of a corrupt payment while in the United States.

Others may be found guilty of taking bribes as well. If a bank representative accepts a bribe of anything more than $1,000, he or she can be imprisoned for no longer than 30 years, and fined three times the value of the bribe. Sporting officials are also sometimes offered bribes to "fix" a sporting event to ensure an outcome that the briber desires. If a referee or other sporting official is convicted or bribery, the punishment can consist of a fine and imprisonment of no longer than five years.

There are many bribery-related offenses with which an individual may be charged. Some of these include government fraud, extortion, kickbacks, procurement fraud, the health care industry and employee benefits or pension plans, and many others. Each of these offenses will result in punishment or sentencing that reflects the severity of the actual crime that has been committed.

Perhaps one of the most common reasons that bribery takes place is to receive unlawful commissions or pay. This is sometimes referred to as a kickback. Often, kickbacks go undetected. However, financial documents within a company or corporation will sometimes serve as substantial evidence in a criminal case to convict the guilty parties of bribery.

Some famous examples of bribery include a federal case in which two former Pentagon officials were sentenced to 24 years in prison after making $1 million and being provided with prostitutes; and the case of an army major who worked as a contracting officer, and who accepted bribes from military contractors that totalled $9.6 million.

Those facing bribery or other related charges should hire an attorney, regardless of their guilt. The punishments for bribery can be severe and having a professional that can handle the case will be of great assistance. When hiring an attorney for a bribery case, it is imperative that he or she has plenty of experience handling similar cases. It may be wise to ask the attorney questions regarding their experience with related cases. An attorney's fees for handling a bribery case in a criminal case will vary, depending on many factors.

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