In California, you could be charged with a white-collar crime for simply offering someone a gift or performing a service for a friend. As long as someone is able to paint you as corrupt, you could face years in jail, hefty fines, and a felony on your criminal record. That can significantly change your life for the worse.
Our Glendale bribery attorneys at Simmrin Law Group can help you avoid the harsh consequences of a bribery conviction. A defense attorney could be able to get your penalties lowered, your charge reduced, or even your conviction expunged.
California’s Definition of Bribery
The state of California outlaws bribery, which it defines as the offer of something of value to someone in a position of power with the intention of influencing that person’s decision. This does not even have to be one specific bribe. In some cases, someone can be charged for a pattern of continued gifts or goodwill.
In instances of bribery, the offer does not even have to be accepted. As long as someone tries to get an official or employee to do something by buying them off or offering gifts or services, it’s illegal. If the offer is accepted, both the person who offered and the person who accepted could be charged with bribery.
California law actually splits bribery up into different charges depending on who is bribing or being bribed. California’s bribery laws include:
Bribery of or By an Executive Officer or Public Employee
California Penal Code (PC) § 67 outlines bribery of executive officers, ministerial officers, and public employees. This covers government officials and members of the police force, including:
- Local coroners
- District attorneys
- The Chief of Police
- Police officers
Examples of bribery of an executive officer could be offering a police officer money or services to get out of a ticket, trying to get a district attorney to drop your charges, or paying off a prison warden to release a prisoner.
Bribery of or by Legislators
PC § 85 and 86 cover bribery of or by legislators in California. Under these laws, officials banned from taking or offering bribes include:
- State Senators
- State Representatives
- County Legislators
- School Board Officials
- City Council Members
If a citizen tries to offer a gift, service, or sum of money to a legislator trying to get them to vote a certain way or abstain from a meeting, they could be charged with bribery of a legislator. Similarly, if a legislative official asks for or agrees to receive a bribe, they could be charged with bribery.
Bribery of Judges and Jurors
PC § 92 and 93 were created to prosecute bribery of judges, jurors, and other figures in public justice. This bribery law applies to:
- Judicial officers
Let’s say someone is on trial for a serious crime, but they think they could be able to sway the judge to rule in favor of them if they offer a service like free landscaping or help with their taxes. The offer of that service would be bribery of a judge and would be yet another charge on the defendant’s record.
The same goes for the justice official, though. If an arbitrator thinks that one of the parties involved in their arbitration would be able to pay them to sway their decision, any request for that money would be punishable under California law.
PC § 641.3 is a bit different than California’s other bribery laws. Instead of dealing with government or justice officials, this law addresses private businesses and employees. California’s commercial bribery law outlaws bribery of or by:
Commercial bribery is approached slightly differently from other bribery charges because, often, people pay employees and other people associated with commercial businesses without any intent to bribe them. Without corrupt intent, that payment is just a normal transaction.
To count as commercial bribery, the offer or solicitation of goods or services has to be done by someone other than the individual’s employer, and must be done “in return for using or agreeing to use his or her position for the benefit of that other person.”
For a free legal consultation with a bribery lawyer serving Glendale, call (310) 896-2723
The Penalties for a Bribery Charge in California
In California, bribery is almost always a felony. Felonies are treated harshly by state prosecutors, and having one on your record could keep you from getting jobs and even voting.
The penalties for felony bribery in California can include:
- Up to four years in state prison
- Possible fines
- Potentially losing your position in office
However, commercial bribery is treated differently. It’s actually a “wobbler,” which is the legal term for a charge that could be either a felony or a misdemeanor. For commercial bribery, that will depend on the value of the bribe.
If a commercial bribe is less than $1,000, it’s a misdemeanor. The penalties for misdemeanor commercial bribery include:
- Up to one year in county jail
However, if a commercial bribe is more than $1,000, or if the defendant has a criminal record, it could be charged as a felony. The penalties for felony commercial bribery can include:
- Up to three years in state prison
When you’re charged with a felony, a prison sentence is very possible, but a bribery attorney in Glendale could be able to help you avoid jail time. Judges are known to sentence people to formal probation, also known as felony probation, instead of prison. They don’t often decide to do that on their own, though. Usually, a defense lawyer will need to negotiate for probation.
The listed penalties are all the maximum consequences that you could face. You don’t need to suffer the full extent of your charge, though. With the help of a skilled attorney, your penalties could be reduced and you can avoid the life-changing effects of a harsh conviction.
Glendale Bribery Lawyer Near Me (310) 896-2723
What a Glendale Bribery Lawyer Can Do for You
Bribery charges can be very hard to deal with, and it’s best to get in touch with a defense lawyer as soon as possible. It may sound cliché, but it’s true: anything you say can be held against you in a court of law. An attorney will be able to keep the prosecutor from twisting your words and using what you say as evidence of bribery.
To help you during your case, your Glendale bribery attorney will:
- Prepare you for legal proceedings
- Advise you during legal interviews
- Block evidence that the prosecutor may try to file against you
- Assist you with your bail hearing
- Assess plea bargains and other deals you might be offered
- Investigate your case to find evidence that supports you
If you’re thinking of taking on your case alone, we strongly advise against it. Prosecutors love to take advantage of defendants who think they can handle their own defense. You can always go with a free public defender, but they often handle a large number of cases and may be too busy to give your case the attention it needs.
A criminal defense lawyer from our firm can help you through every step of the process and make sure you aren’t overwhelmed by the complexity of the proceedings. To learn more about how you can benefit from legal help, you can get a free consultation with one of our criminal defense lawyers.
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Glendale Bribery FAQs
What Is the Difference Between Bribery and Extortion?
The major difference between bribery and extortion is who is offering what. Bribery occurs when someone offers something of value in order to influence someone in power. However, extortion basically works the opposite way.
Instead of one party offering something of value, the party receiving the goods or services in question is the one making the offer—or, rather, the threat. California’s extortion law applies when someone makes a threat or uses direct force to get someone else to:
- Give their consent
- Offer money or property
- Perform an official act
These two charges can be confusing, and in some cases, the party being extorted is wrongly blamed for bribing the party doing the extorting. A lawyer can help you set the record straight if that happens.
Is Bribery a Felony in California?
Yes, bribery is almost always a felony. As long as the bribe is offered to a legislator, a witness, a judge, a juror, an officer, or the bribe is more than $1,000, the offender will most likely be charged with felony bribery.
The only exception to this rule is if a bribe of less than $1,000 is offered to a commercial official like an employee or an agent with the intent to influence their decision. In those cases, it is possible for the charge to be a misdemeanor.
That being said, in some cases, a criminal defense lawyer could be able to get a charge reduced to a misdemeanor. By negotiating with the prosecutor and the judge, an attorney could even be able to get your charges dropped entirely.
Is It Illegal to Take a Bribe?
Yes. As long as you are offered a bribe with the intent to influence your decision or actions, it is illegal to willingly take that bribe. Almost every bribery law in California that applies to the person offering a bribe has a counterpart law that applies to the person accepting the bribe.
If you’ve been offered a bribe, the best thing to do is turn it down. If you do not explicitly decline, you could be implicated in the crime, even if you had no intention of doing what the other person wanted you to do. If you did not know that the offer was a bribe, a lawyer can help.
How Much Does a Defense Attorney Cost in California?
It’s very fair to ask how much your defense attorney will charge. In fact, we encourage it. Our firm offers free consultations to people being charged with crimes in Southern California. And at your meeting, you can find out how much your legal defense may cost.
Every case is different, though, so it’s hard to say how much your attorney’s fees may be without knowing the details of your case. Some factors that could affect your legal fees include:
- How difficult your case is
- How long your case takes to resolve
- The severity of your charge
- Any extra legal expenses involved in your case
Technically, you can opt for a free public defender. They may be just as skilled and experienced as any lawyer, but they take a large number of cases every month. There is a high chance that a public defender won’t have the time or resources to handle your case as well as an attorney from a law firm.
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Talk to a Bribery Attorney in Glendale Today
Some bribery charges are overblown or untrue. Sometimes, you simply gave a friend a gift or did something for them out of the goodness of your heart. No matter what your intention was, you deserve to have a fighting chance in court.
A Glendale bribery lawyer from Simmrin Law Group can give you that chance. Call us or contact us today for a FREE initial consultation with a defense attorney. Someone from our firm will be available to talk to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Call or text (310) 896-2723 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form