California Penal Code Section 67 PC & California Penal Code Section 68 PC: Bribery Of Or By An Executive Officer Or Public Employee

bribery

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimes

The criminal offense of Bribery occurs when a person offers something of value to an executive officer or public employee in order to improperly affect that individual’s official actions. Both the person making the bribe and the official who accepts the bribe can be guilty of this offense.

Bribery of an Executive Officer is covered by California Penal Code Section 67 PC while Bribery of Ministerial Officers or Public Employees is covered under California Penal Code Section 67.5 PC. Penal Code Section 68 PC deals with Bribery by Officers and Public Employees.

The crime of Bribery of an Executive Officer / Public Employee requires the following elements:

  1. A person gives or offers to give an executive officer/public employee
  2. Cash or something with value
  3. With corrupt intent
  4. To affect the officer’s or employee’s decision in an official function.

It is also a crime for the officials and employees to solicit a bribe. Under Penal Code Section 68 PC, it is illegal for:

  1. An executive officer or public employee to request, receive or agree to receive
  2. Money or something of value
  3. With corrupt intent
  4. In order to influence that employee’s decision in an official function.

An “executive officer” is a government official who has the power to use his or her own discretion in performing their job duties. Ministerial employees typically do not have discretion and merely follow their bosses instructions, such as clerks or inspectors. Executive officers can include many powerful officeholders in all areas of government, including district attorneys, police officers, chiefs of police, and even local coroners.

The officer or employee does not have to accept the bribe or perform the action for the crime to have been committed; simply the act of making the offer is enough to trigger criminal liability.

Someone acts with “corrupt intent” when they act in order to unlawfully gain a financial or other form of advantage for themselves or for someone else.

2. Examples

The individual that is approached with the bribe must have the power to perform the act that is requested of them. This means that a person who offers a prison warden a substantial amount of money to let a prisoner free would be guilty of Bribery of an Executive Officer, while someone who offers the same amount to the warden in order to have their conviction overturned would not, because a warden does not have the power to overturn a court conviction.

An example of Bribery may occur when someone offers a District Attorney money or something of value so that they do not file criminal charges in a particular case, or offers to pay a police officer if they do not arrest them for a Driving Under the Influence offense.

3. Related Offenses

Bribery is similar to Extortion under California Penal Code Section 518 PC, with the key difference being that Extortion adds the additional element of coercion.

Related Bribery offenses include:

  1. Bribery of Legislators - California Penal Code Section 85 PC and California Penal Code Section 86 PC
  2. Bribery of Judges/Jurors – California Penal Code Section 92 PC and California Penal Code Section 93 PC
  3. Bribery of Supervisors and Public Corporations – California Penal Code Section 165 PC
  4. Bribery of Witnesses – California Penal Code Section 137 PC and Californian Penal Code Section 138 PC
  5. Commercial Bribery – California Penal Code Section 641.3 PC

4. Defenses to Bribery Charges

In certain instances, someone may mistakenly make statements that could be misinterpreted as offering a bribe. If statements were made without any criminal or corrupt intent, the person making the statements would not be guilty of Bribery and an Accident Defense may apply.

Furthermore, a Mistake of Fact can exist that may cause a person to inadvertently make statements to an officer or public employee without realizing what they are doing or who they are talking to. In these situations, a Mistake of Fact defense could be raised.

Additionally, there may be scenarios in which sting operations are set up with the intent to catch people in the act of offering up bribes to officials. If the undercover operative in the sting operation pushes the limits too far in attempting to induce someone to make a bribe, there may be a valid Entrapment defense.

5. Penalties

Bribery offenses are Felony level offenses and can be punished by up to four years in a state prison and substantial fines. Additionally, an executive officer or public employee convicted of accepting or soliciting a bribe would forfeit their office and be disqualified from future service.

6. Criminal Defense for Bribery Cases

If you or a loved one have been charged with or are under investigation for Bribery, it is critical that you contact a knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut has an established reputation as a fierce litigator who is highly respected throughout the court system. Mr. Kraut has maintained key relationships with prosecutors and law enforcement, and as a former prosecutor he possesses an insider’s knowledge regarding how to best defend his clients.

For more information about Bribery, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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