Los Angeles Bribery Defense Lawyers
Bribery is a serious charge that can ruin your reputation, destroy your life, wreck your career, and put you behind bars. California law defines most forms of bribery as a felony, both for the person attempting a bribe, and the person accepting a bribe. Bribery carries heavy penalties in Los Angeles.
If you are facing charges of bribery, several valid legal defenses could be effective. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you increase the chances of the charges being dismissed, reduced, or acquitted. At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, our leader and managing partner Mark Werksman has been listed by Los Angeles Magazine as one of LA’s “top white-collar criminal defense attorneys.” We know what it takes to defend against bribery charges, and we aggressively pursue full exoneration for the people we represent.
Bribery is defined in California Penal Code PC 7 as:
“The word ‘bribe’ signifies anything of value or advantage, present or prospective, or any promise or undertaking to give any, asked, given, or accepted, with a corrupt intent to influence, unlawfully, the person to whom it is given, in his or her action, vote, or opinion, in any public or official capacity.”
In other words, it’s a crime to offer, give, ask for, or receive anything with the corrupt intention of influencing any official act or opinion. If you offer a bribe, regardless of whether the bribe is accepted or agreed upon, you can face criminal charges. If an official “suggests” that payment or services could sway their vote, cause them to grant special permission, or act in any way other than how they would normally, they too can be charged – whether a bribe is accepted or not.
To better understand how bribery works, here are some examples of what would and wouldn’t be considered bribery:
- Contactor Bill is building a high-rise and realizes that a costly mistake was made that could cause a major setback. When the building inspector arrives and notices the problem, Bill offers him $5,000 to keep quiet about it and sign off anyway. The building inspector agrees, takes the money, and lets the infraction slide. In this case, both Bill and the building inspector could be charged with bribery. If the building inspector had refused the bribe and reported it to the police, Bill could be accused of bribery, and the building inspector would be safe.
- Contractor Bill is building a high-rise and a building inspector notices a major problem that could set the project back by over $200,000. The building inspector offers to make it all “go away” if Bill pays him $5,000, which Bill accepts and pays. In this case, again, both Bill and the inspector committed bribery. If, however, Bill refused and reported the inspector to the police, the inspector could be charged, and Bill would be safe.
These same scenarios can be applied with any amount of money, service, preferential treatment, or any advantage offered, given, accepted, or requested of or by any person performing an official act.
Unless the bribe is minor and in specific situations (such as to a ministerial official for a sum of under $400), bribery is a felony crime, punishable by:
- Imprisonment for two to four years
- A minimum fine of $2,000 with an unlimited maximum based on the value of the bribe
- Removal from public office
Bribery is an intent crime, which means the prosecution must prove the accused had an intent to corrupt to qualify as a crime. With this in mind, there are several valid and effective defenses against a charge of bribery:
- Misunderstanding: In some cases, statements can be misinterpreted as a bribe when they were never intended that way. This defense can be used to show there was no corrupt intent.
- Intoxication: If you are sufficiently intoxicated that your mental capacity is diminished, it could support the defense that you had no actual intent.
- Mistake: In some cases, people honestly don’t realize who they’re talking to or what they’re doing, and comments or suggestions can be misconstrued as a bribe in error.
It’s up to your lawyer to determine which defense will be most effective in your case, and our white-collar criminal defense lawyers at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP are some of the most creative and effective criminal defense attorneys in California. When you hire us, you don’t just get one attorney – you get the entire firm behind you with our resources dedicated to your defense. We successfully represent some of the top people in our state. Call (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free consultation.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.