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What are the elements of bribery?

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Bribery refers to the offer or acceptance of money or anything of value in exchange for the influence of a government or public employee or official. Bribes can come in many forms. However, they are almost always intended to alter or influence the actions of certain individuals. If you face bribery charges, the prosecution need not show the existence of a written contract. Rather, it need only show corrupt intent. 

According to FindLaw, the prosecution must only prove that you made an agreement in exchange for something of value to uphold the bribery charges. Again, the state does not need a written agreement. However, it does need proof that an agreement existed. Proof may come in the form of a recorded telephone conversations, an email exchange or a body cam video. 

Before the federal government will prosecute a bribery case, it requires that the prosecution establish the existence of very specific elements. The first element of bribery the state must prove is that the bribed individual is a “public official.” “Public official” includes anyone from rank-and-file federal employees to elected officials. 

The second element of bribery involves a “thing of value.” The object of value can be both tangible, such as money or a piece of jewelry, and intangible, such as the promise of a promotion. 

Bribery must also entail an “official act,” which the bribery was meant to influence. For instance, a politician may try to collect votes for pending legislation that promises to directly impact the party who offers the bribe. Moreover, the bribed party must have the power to control or follow through with the official act. 

Finally, the prosecution must prove intent and establish a casual connection. “Intent” shows that the bribing party meant to obtain a desired result. A “casual connection” shows that the timing of the act was more than a suspicious coincidence.