California Penal Code Section 85 PC & California Penal Code Section 86 PC: Bribery Of Or By Legislators

bribery defense

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimes

Bribery of or by a Legislator occurs when a person offers something of value to a legislator or other elected official in order to get that official to vote in a certain way. Both the person offering the bribe and the legislator who is bribed would be guilty of these offenses.

Bribery of Legislative Officers is governed by California Penal Code Section 85 PC while Bribery by Legislators is governed by California Penal Code Section 86 PC.

The crime of Bribery of a Legislator requires the following elements:

  1. A person gives or offers to give a legislator
  2. Cash or something of value
    1. With corrupt intent
    2. To influence an official vote.

Under California Penal Code Section 86 PC, it is against the law for a legislator to solicit bribes. This occurs when:

  1. A legislator requests, receives or agrees to receive
  2. Money or something of value
  3. With corrupt intent
  4. To sell their vote in an official matter.

“Legislators” can include nearly any person holding a state or local office in which they have the power to vote on policy matters. This includes state senators and representatives, city council members, county legislators and elected officials on school boards.

If someone attempts to bribe a legislator, that legislator need not accept the bribe for a crime to have been committed. Simply the act of offering the bribe is enough to violate the statute.

A person acts with “corrupt intent” when they do something in order to unlawfully gain an advantage, financial or otherwise, for themselves or others.

2. Examples

A man is planning to renovate his house and learns that the renovations would violate several city zoning laws and requirements. The man approaches several members of his local city council and offers to pay them substantial amounts of money if they vote to change the zoning laws to allow his renovations. The council members accept the bribe offer. In this scenario, the man would be guilty of Bribery of a Legislator pursuant to California Penal Code Section 85 PC and the council members would be guilty of Bribery by a Legislator under California Penal Code Section 86 PC.

3. Related Offenses

If a person uses threats or force to get a legislator to vote a certain way, that person may be guilty of Extortion under California Penal Code Section 518 PC.

Related Bribery offenses include:

  1. Bribery of and by Executive Officers and Ministerial Employees - California Penal Code Section 67 PC and California Penal Code Section 68 PC
  2. Bribery of Judges/Jurors – California Penal Code Section 92 PC and California Penal Code Section 93 PC
  3. Bribery of Witnesses - California Penal Code Section 137 PC and Californian Penal Code Section 138 PC
  4. Bribery of Supervisors and Public Corporations – California Penal Code Section 165 PC
  5. Commercial Bribery – California Penal Code Section 641.3 PC

4. Defenses to Bribery Charges

In some cases, law enforcement conduct undercover sting operations to try and catch corrupt legislators accepting bribes. If the undercover officer gets too pushy with a bribe or otherwise tries to induce a legislator into doing something they normally would not do, an Entrapment defense may be valid.

5. Penalties

Bribery of or by a Legislator are both felonies that are punishable by up to four years in prison and expensive court fines. Additionally, a legislator convicted of receiving a bribe would have to pay restitution, would be forced to forfeit their office and would be barred from future elected positions. Conviction could also jeopardize professional licenses such as licenses to practice law.

6. Criminal Defense for Bribery Cases

If you or someone you know are being investigated for or charged with Bribery of a Legislator, it is important to meet with an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is skilled at representing clients charged with Bribery and other White Collar offenses. Mr. Kraut is highly respected throughout the court system as a tough litigator and passionate advocate for his clients.

For more information about Bribery of Legislators, 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 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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