Orange County Bribery Attorney
OC Law Firm Fighting Your Bribery Charges (Penal Code 137 and PC 138)
Bribery of or by a public official is taken seriously by the courts; it is often charged as a felony. Public officials include politicians, police officers, court clerks, judges, or anybody who holds a position of public trust. If you or somebody you know is being accused of bribery, you need to call our defense attorneys at (714) 530-9690 right now, because this is not something to brush aside. Punishment even includes possible prison time.
What is Bribery?
Bribery encompasses several laws, but is essentially when an elected lawmaker—from the governor to a local city council representative—trades their vote for money or something else of value under Penal Code (PC) 137 and PC 138. As well, as an elected lawmaker can be charged for asking for a bribe.
It is important to understand that it does not matter whether you actually received or gave the bribe—only that you thought about it and did something to act upon it. In fact, all that is needed is circumstantial evidence to charge and convict you on bribery charges. The implications of your actions are enough to send you to prison. You may even still face charges even if the bribe was not accepted.
Call us today to discuss your case in a free case evaluation!
The Value of the Bribe
Unlike certain crimes—especially theft crimes like petty theft and grand theft—the value of the bribe does not matter so long as either the intent was there or action took place. Also, general favors, rather than personal, direct favors, can be prosecuted under California's bribery laws.
An "official matter" is when a bribe is taken by a public official and an official favor is done in return. For example, say you are a housing developer who bribes city council members to change the city's long standing zoning law of allowing single-family home to apartments, condos, and dense housing. If the city council passes such an act changing the housing zoning laws because of your bribe, it is an official matter. Another example is if you were pulled over by police and the police officer says he will "make your problems go away" if you pay him $1,000 and in return the officer does not arrest you.
Bribery vs. Extortion
Both bribery and extortion have the same goal: to get something of value from somebody.
The difference between bribery and extortion is, for example, if you offer a large sum of money to a city official to "help" approve a development your company is in charge of, then that is bribery—regardless of whether or not the city official accepted the money. Now, if you threaten to post explicit photographs of the city official having an affair unless the city official does what you want, then it is considered extortion.
Defending Bribery Charges in Orange County
Bribery is a specific intent crime, which means if you had no corrupt or nefarious intent then it becomes a difficult case for the prosecution, which can possibly result in your case being dismissed.
Some possible defense strategies that can be advanced include the following:
- Misunderstanding: Our Orange County bribery attorneys have seen many cases where it simply comes down to the alleged bribery being a misunderstanding. Maybe you are a land developer who happens to live in the same city where your latest project is taking place and there is an elected official who you have supported over the years; your latest political donation may have been viewed by somebody as a bribe since the elected official accepted it and happened to support your project. As long as your campaign donations were within the law, you are not guilty of this crime.
- Wrongly Accused: Using the misunderstanding example above, there have been cases where a political opponent hears the land developer donated money to an elected official and begins accusing both the land developer and elected official of bribery. While "the court of public opinion" may say it does not look good if you legally donated to the campaign of an elected official who happened to approve your project, this is does not necessarily encompass a crime. You will only face the risk of criminal charges so long as the donation was within campaign finance law and the action did not violate any laws.
If Convicted of Bribery…
Depending on what aspect of the bribery law you broke, you could face two to four years in a state prison and thousands of dollars in fines and restitution. If you are an elected official, you will have to resign.
Call our OC White Collar Crime Lawyer Today!
Bribery laws are strict, complex, and can have devastating consequences for your career if you're convicted. This is why you need to call and set up an appointment with the Orange County white collar criminal defense attorney at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti for a free consultation.
We have decade's worth of experience in the Southern California courts. Your freedom and reputation is very important to us, so call (714) 530-9690 now! You can also click here to request a free case evaluation.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.