Many people do not understand the severity of bribery charges. As this is a federal offense, the penalties can be intense. If you’re charged with bribery, whether you are guilty or not, it’s essential to ensure you have a competent Cobb County criminal defense lawyer on your side. Unfortunately, due to the complexities of this crime, many unknowingly commit bribery. Keep reading to learn more about this offense and its penalties.
What Constitutes Bribery?
Any time someone offers a public official or any person acting on behalf of the state a benefit or reward to make a decision or influence their actions is committing bribery. For example, if a group of businessmen approach a local lawmaker and tell them they will give the lawmaker 10% of the profits in exchange for the approval of their project, that is considered a bribe.
Similarly, if a public official, regardless of whether they are elected or appointed to the position, solicits or accepts something of value in exchange for a vote, decision, or action, they are committing bribery. This includes a judge telling the defendant he will rule in their favor in exchange for money.
It is important to note that Georgia provides a list of what they do not consider items of value to be. Generally, any gift valued at less than $100, food during a single meal, and compensation for meals and hotels for events, among other items, are not considered to be items of value. Thus, these will not be considered bribes.
What Are the Penalties for This Crime?
In Georgia, the penalties for accepting a bribe include anywhere from one to twenty years in prison, depending on the circumstances of the case. If you offer a bribe, you can face fines of up to $5,000 and a minimum of two years in prison.
If the aggravating circumstances of your case include the fact that the bribe was used to commit an illegal action, the penalties can be more severe as a result.
Are There Any Possible Defenses?
Though many assume there are no defenses for a crime like bribery, this is not true. As there is a list of things the state does not consider to be items of value, you may be able to prove that the gift you gave or accepted falls under one of these categories. For example, going out to dinner with a group of businessmen is not a crime under Georgia law, even if they pay for the meal.
Similarly, you may be able to prove you were under duress when you made the decision to accept or offer a bribe. Though this may be rare, it is unfortunately common for others to make threats to influence the actions of others.
When you’re in trouble, the Miller Law Practice can help. Our dedicated legal team will work to examine your unique circumstances to help you through these challenging times. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.