The Consequences of a Bribery Conviction
In Florida, it is a crime to offer or receive bribes from certain individuals. Those who are convicted of this offense face jail time, heavy fines, and damage to their reputations, which makes it especially important for Florida residents who are being investigated for bribery or another white collar crime, to speak to an experienced white collar crime attorney who can help them formulate a defense.
Elements of Bribery
Florida law defines bribery as knowingly and intentionally giving, offering, or promising a benefit to a public servant in order to influence how that individual performs his or her official duties. While it is considered a serious offense to offer a bribe, it is also illegal in Florida for a public servant, such as a government employee, to request, accept, or solicit a bribe.
Furthermore, prosecutors are not required to prove certain facts about a defendant in order to obtain a conviction, including whether or not:
- He or she was actually qualified to act in the desired way;
- He or she had assumed office;
- The matter in question was already pending or could have lawfully been brought to his or her attention;
- The decision was within his or her jurisdiction; or
- His or her official action was necessary to achieve the other person’s purpose.
Unfortunately, this makes it much simpler to prosecute and convict someone of bribery, which can have devastating consequences, as bribery is categorized as a second degree felony and so is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Public officials are not the only individuals who can be prosecuted for accepting bribes. This is because under Florida law, people are also prohibited from offering, conferring, or agreeing to confer a benefit upon someone who is bound by a statutory or common-law duty in order to influence that person to violate that duty. For instance, a person can be charged with this crime if he or she bribed someone who fulfills one of the following roles:
- An agent or employee;
- A trustee, guardian, or other fiduciary;
- A lawyer, doctor, accountant, or appraiser;
- A professional adviser;
- An officer, director, manager, or partner of an organization; and
- An arbitrator or other neutral third party.
Individuals who fulfill these roles can also be convicted of bribery if they accept or agree to accept a bribe in exchange for influence. Commercial bribery is charged as a third degree felony, which could mean a five year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine.
Contact us Today to Schedule a Consultation With an Experienced White Collar Crime Attorney
Being charged with a serious white collar crime, such as bribery of a public servant can have serious consequences, so if you are a resident of south Florida and are being investigated for or have been charged with bribery or another white collar offense, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys at 305-670-9919 to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced attorney who can explain your legal options, including possible defenses.