Greasing the wheels in the capacity of a public official may be viewed as criminal bribery, instead of streamlining the process. Understanding what constitutes bribery as a criminal offense could be incredibly important to your future, as the legal consequences for such an offense may be severe and often includes imprisonment or monetary fines.
If you are facing a bribery charge, you may strongly benefit from consulting a Palm Beach Gardens fraud defense lawyer at Leifert & Leifert. One of our dedicated criminal attorneys could examine your case and potentially advise on how to create a valid legal defense. Contact Leifert & Leifert today to schedule a free consultation and case review.
Defining Bribery in Palm Beach Gardens
When a person—typically a public official—accepts or offers something of value in return for a specific action or “quid pro quo,” it is normally treated as a criminal act of bribery. The action, or agreement not to take an action, must typically be explicit. However, even implicit statements such as asking a public official “how can we fix this problem?” may be considered bribery if a quid pro quo is offered.
Bribery is usually regarded as a Second-Degree Felony in Florida, and a conviction may generally lead to a penalty of at least 21 months and up to 15 years in prison under Florida law. The action undertaken or forgone by a public official that can lead to a charge of official misconduct and/or bribe taking can include:
- Falsifying, or causing another person to falsify, any official record
- Concealing destroying or covering up any official document
- Obstructing or delaying the actions of a public official or entity
Bribery Via Threats
Threatening to harm a public official in order to get them to undertake or omit an action within their discretion may also be regarded as bribery. Specifically, Florida Statutes Chapter 838, which details and describes criminal law of bribery, establishes that the “thing of value” being offered in this bribery scenario is freedom from harm in exchange for specific action or inaction. A Palm Beach Gardens bribery attorney could provide further clarification regarding the nature of this charge and how individual statutes may apply to your case.
Other Types of Bribery
The offense known as commercial bribery generally does not involve public servants but is a serious criminal allegation nonetheless. Commercial bribery usually occurs when an agent, employee, trustee, or guardian accepts a benefit in exchange for violating their duty or responsibility to a private entity or person.
Bid tampering in exchange for a benefit of value can occur in the public or private sphere. This form of bribery typically happens when someone with the responsibility to collect bids for work or a project uses their position to communicate proprietary information that can influence the bidding process in exchange for something of value. Additionally, it is generally considered illegal to alter or tamper with documents used in a competitive solicitation to influence the bidding process.
Under Florida bribery statutes, it is generally illegal to “fix” any athletic contest, match, race, or game—professional or amateur—in exchange for valuable benefit. The law typically covers participants, referees, coaches, and viewers who wish to influence the contest illegally, whether or not there is betting, or other monetary activity related to the contest.
To qualify as bribery in this capacity, a person who influences the contest must usually take something of value in exchange for failing to provide an honest service or effort during the contest. If you are charged with this particular offense or any other bribery-related crime, a bribery lawyer in Palm Beach Gardens may be able to help.
Contacting a Palm Beach Gardens Bribery Attorney
Bribery is a complex offense that often has many different elements. It is easy to become confused as you attempt to navigate the Florida legal system at the state or even local level. Consulting with a Palm Beach Gardens bribery lawyer could help you carefully examine the details of your charge and work to build a credible defense that may significantly and positively influence your case. Contact Leifert & Leifert today to learn more about different legal options for your bribery case.