Featured News 2019 What is Bribery?

What is Bribery?

Bribery is the accepting of an annuity which includes but is not limited to the payment of gifts or favors to influence someone of importance. Bribes may also be made through money exchanges for advantageous treatment. In most instances of bribery, both the paying party and the receiving party are punished for their part in the crime.

Examples of bribery include the following:

  • Donating to an office holder in exchange for business contracts
  • Paying an official money to ignore a law or make an exception
  • Providing gifts or payments to a government official in exchange for their support of certain bills and laws

Quid Pro Quo & Bribery

Bribery is only punishable if the transaction has been completed. The legal term for the completion of bribery is quid pro quo, a Latin word which means "a favor for a favor." In other words, the deal or bribery must include one party exchanging one thing explicitly for another from the other party. If a relationship between two things cannot be identified by law enforcement, than the satisfactions of quid pro quo are not met.

Penalties for Bribery in the United States

Typically, bribery is charged as felony with a minimum sentence of one year in prison. In some instances, commercial bribery—instances not involving government officials—is only charged as an misdemeanor. The penalty for bribery is starts as what is referred to as a base level offense. In other words, punishment varies based on what the circumstances of the bribe and its value. The system is numbered the higher the compensation paid, the higher the base goes up. A base offense being number 8 for any type of commercial bribery. If an official commits bribery, the level of the offense is a 14.

If a government official commits bribery, their position and the value of the bribery will significantly influence their criminal penalties. Courts also base the punishment of bribery on the value of the compensation received.

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