Some people may try to use their wealth to get ahead in life, while others may face wrongful accusations. Bribery charges in San Luis Obispo may result from several situations and involve many different people. Regardless of which charge you face, the consequences may be severe and impact every aspect of a person's life.
The San Luis Obispo bribery defense lawyers at the Aron Law Firm understand that these are serious criminal charges. Furthermore, they are an indictment of the individual's moral character. Our criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience handling bribery and other white-collar crime charges and will inform you of your legal rights throughout criminal proceedings.
What Is Bribery in California?
Bribery is the act of offering or providing compensation to another party to persuade them to act a certain way or perform a specific action. Furthermore, both the person making the bribe and the person accepting the bribe may face bribery charges. California distinguishes bribery depending on who the bribe is for, such as an executive officer or public employee, legislators, judges and jurors, and witnesses.
- Penal Code 67 and Penal Code 68 state bribing an executive officer or public employee is a felony. Executive officers are government officials who use discretion when performing job duties, such as a police officer or district attorney.
- Penal Code 85 and Penal Code 86 make bribery by or of a legislator a criminal offense. A “legislator” encapsulates state legislators, members of city or county legislative bodies, or members of a school district legislative body.
- Penal Code 92 and Penal Code 93 state that bribing a judicial officer is a felony offense. Judicial officers include judges, jurors, and any other person authorized to hear legal issues.
- Penal Code 137 and Penal Code 138 make it illegal for an individual to bribe a witness.
Furthermore, Penal Code 641.3 defines commercial bribery. Commercial bribery occurs when an employee takes a bribe in exchange for using their employment to benefit the person offering the bribe. An example might be paying elected officials to vote a specific way on a bill.
How Severe Are the Consequences for a Bribery Conviction in California?
State prosecutors may charge all bribery offenses as felonies. If a court convicts the individual, they may face up to four years in state prison or hefty fines. In some cases, a judge may sentence a convicted individual to a combination of both prison time and fines. Additionally, an executive officer or public employee may lose their office or be disqualified from future service if a court finds them guilty of accepting or soliciting bribes. A person convicted of bribery may also find it challenging to find employment after serving their sentence.
As for commercial bribery, California prosecutors may charge this offense as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the amount of the bribe. For example, a conviction may lead to prison time for up to three years if the bribe was over $1,000. If the amount was $1,000 or less, prosecutors might charge the offense as a misdemeanor. Convictions may lead to serving up to three years in state prison.
Possible Defenses to a Bribery Charge
When prosecuting bribery cases, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant gave or offered to give another individual cash or something of value with corrupt intent to reach their desired outcome.
California prosecutors are tough and will seek a conviction. Therefore, anyone facing bribery charges in San Luis Obispo should speak with an experienced defense attorney right away. After reviewing the facts of the case, a San Luis Obispo bribery defense lawyer can craft a robust defense strategy.
Possible defenses include:
- Insufficient evidence: Prosecutors must have sufficient evidence of bribery for a court to convict. Challenging their evidence may result in a judge dismissing the case, a jury acquittal, decreased charges, or a lesser sentence.
- Lack of intent to bribe: The law requires that the individual has the specific intent to offer or receive a bribe to be convicted of bribery. A common defense is that the defendant did not possess any criminal intent when offered or accepted payment.
- False accusations: It is not uncommon for people to falsely accuse others of bribery. False allegations may result from revenge or jealousy. In other cases, a false accusation may result from a misunderstanding.
- Entrapment: While this defense is not always applicable, it may be if the defendant received bribery charges after an undercover investigation. An attorney may argue that the defendant only committed the crime because a police officer lured or coerced them into doing so and they would not have committed the crime otherwise.
In rare cases, those accused may speak to the prosecutor and act as a witness to catch others. In exchange for giving information, the prosecution might lessen the charge or drop the case. However, you should only speak to the prosecutor with a San Luis Obispo bribery defense attorney present.
Contact a San Luis Obispo Bribery Defense Lawyer Today
With much at stake, including your freedom, finances, and reputation, contact the Aron Law Firm immediately after discovering you face bribery charges. Our San Luis Obispo bribery defense attorneys are skilled litigators who have the experience to handle various white-collar crimes in California, including bribery.
At the Aron Law Firm, we understand how stressful bribery charges can be, so we are here to make the legal process as straightforward as possible while fighting for a favorable outcome. To speak with a knowledgeable bribery defense lawyer in San Luis Obispo, call (805) 618-1768 or complete our contact form today.