West Palm Beach Bribery Defense Lawyer
Ohle Law P.A. can help guide you through your complex federal case.
Countries around the world have vastly different government structures. Nevertheless, bribery is a universal concept. Active participation and a general sense of transparency are two factors the U.S. Constitution has sought to incorporate in the interest of maintaining peace and keeping the government running smoothly. Therefore, in the U.S., rumors of bribery in business and the public sectors are newsworthy occurrences. In addition to garnering a public response, bribery is against the law. Federal law prohibits business executives and government workers from accepting money or any other benefit in exchange for the individual’s influence based on his or her position of authority.
What constitutes bribery?
- Most people can give a general description of the concept of bribery. A federal bribery offense takes place when an agreement is made with an employee or public official for the exchange of money or something else that is of value. The law does not require the existence of a written agreement. However, the prosecution must be able to prove the agreement existed and was made with corrupt intent. Bribery cases against federal employees require several elements:
- The individual receiving the bribe must be a public official, ranging from the average, everyday civil servant to elected officials
- Something of value must be offered, whether tangible or intangible
- There must be an act that may be influenced by the bribe
- The public official must have the authority to perform the act
- The person offering the bribe must be offering the benefit with the intent to influence the act
- The prosecution must prove the connection between the bribe issuer’s desire to have an act performed by the public official and the benefit provided as a bribe
Examples of bribery in government
Government bribery has been taking place since societies first became organized. Historically, people who have been accused of crimes have offered money to judges. Someone might pay a bribe to a federal office worker who has the ability to expedite paperwork. Businesses sometimes pay a benefit to a government office to obtain special licenses and permits that may otherwise be more difficult to obtain. Corrections facility staff and law enforcement officers have been convicted for receiving sexual favors in exchange for extending privileges or overlooking a crime.
Non-government examples of bribery
The sports industry provides multiple examples of situations from which a bribery offense may arise. Referees might be targeted for receiving bribes to make calls to influence the outcome of a game. It is also illegal to pay a player to “throw” a game or deliberately play at a level that is below his or her natural ability. Coaches may also be bribed to call certain plays or to bench certain star players in the interest of causing the team to lose the game. Bribery also happens in the business sector. For example, a corporation may use bribery to recruit employees from a rival company. Similar to those who are charged with bribing a government official, people who engage in bribery in the private sector may be ordered to pay fines and/or even sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act FCPA), businesses and certain individuals are prohibited from paying foreign government officials to assist with procuring business. Corporations and their employees who work internationally sometimes find themselves entangled in issues regarding the FCPA because many other countries have comparatively lax policies regarding bribery. Therefore, in some international jurisdictions, it is acceptable for a business representative to give a gift, pay money, or make a promise to a government official for the purpose of convincing the official to leverage his or her influence in a way that helps the person or corporation conduct business in the foreign country.
There are certain instances in which it may be very difficult for prosecutors to prove bribery. For example a person who is a close friend of a government official may give the official an expensive gift every year during the holiday season. If the person applies for a permit a month before giving the official the usual expensive holiday gift, prosecutors would likely have difficulty establishing bribery based on those facts alone. Similarly, a prosecutor may have difficulty proving bribery took place in a case in which there is no tangible evidence, such as a recorded phone call, witnesses, or camera footage to establish the existence of an agreement between the accused and a business or public official to make a corrupt exchange. Anyone who is under investigation for bribery should seek the legal counsel of an experienced West Palm Beach bribery defense lawyer.
Contacting an experienced Florida bribery lawyer
Being accused of violating a federal bribery law is a very serious matter. Federal prosecutors and judges have typically had long, storied careers and are at the top of their field. Therefore, a defendant in a federal court matter requires a lawyer who not only has the experience and knowledge to handle the case, but also the professional resources, time, and energy level to focus on high-stakes cases. In addition to working on gathering facts, a qualified defense lawyer will also be vigilant in protecting the defendant’s rights and counseling the client in his or her interactions with federal agents. The first step toward retaining a qualified lawyer is to simply call the lawyer’s office to receive a free, confidential case evaluation.