Oklahomans who are facing bribery charges should take them seriously. A bribery conviction can result in serious penalties, including substantial fines and sentences to incarceration. It is important for people to understand bribery charges and to get help if they have been charged with bribery.

What is bribery?

Bribery occurs when a person offers something valuable to a government employee or public official in exchange for influence. It also can be charged when a government employee or public official accepts something of value in exchange for influence or favors. By contrast, extortion occurs when someone tries to influence another person by threatening them.

Bribery under federal law

Under federal law, prosecutors are required to prove all of the elements of bribery beyond a reasonable doubt. Bribery may be charged under federal law when someone bribes a federal official or when a federal official accepts a bribe. The elements of bribery under the federal statute include the following:

• The person who is bribed is a federal official.
• The person who bribes the federal official offers something of value.
• An official act might be influenced by the bribe.
• The federal official has power over the official act.
• The person doing the bribing must have the intent to influence the federal official to do something about the official act.
• There is a causal relationship between the payment and the official act.

If a prosecutor fails to prove one of the elements beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant will likely be found not guilty of bribery. If a prosecutor can prove all of the elements of bribery beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant will likely be convicted of the offense.

White-collar crime can result in severe penalties. People who are convicted of bribery or other white-collar crimes may be sentenced to prison and substantial fines. If you have been charged with bribery or related offenses, you might want to consult with experienced white-collar criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible. An experienced attorney may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to try to secure a more favorable outcome.