Tallahassee Bribery & Corruption Attorney
We hold public officials to high ethical standards. So when there is a suggestion that an official decision is the result of improper influence, prosecutors and the press often go looking for evidence of corruption. This can lead to charges of bribery.
Bribery is a crime under both federal and Florida law. This goes for both the person accused of offering the briber and the person who accepts it. If you find yourself facing these sorts of public corruption charges, you need to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who will have your back. The Tallahassee bribery & corruption attorneys at Luke Newman, P.A., are ready to assist.
What Is Bribery?
Florida law defines “bribery” as knowingly or intentionally making a gift, offer, or promise “to any public servant” with the intent to “influence the performance of any act or omission which the person believes to be.” Likewise, the statute forbids any public servant from requesting, soliciting, accepting, or agreeing to accept such a gift.
In simple terms, if you offer a government official anything in exchange for doing–or not doing–something within the scope of their authority, you have committed bribery. And if you are a public official or employee and ask for a gift, with an express or implied promise to do or not do something in return, you have also committed bribery.
Note that nothing in the law requires the bribe to be successful. That is to say, prosecutors need not prove–nor even allege–that the public official accepted the bribe and/or did what the person who made the bribe wished to happen. Indeed, bribery is a crime even if the public servant in question never had the authority to take the requested action.
Bribery need also not involve cash payments. It covers any “gifts”–tangible or otherwise–designed to influence a public servant. For example, if Tim promises to guarantee the son of a building inspector a job in exchange for ignoring code violations, that is considered an illegal bribe.
The other thing to keep in mind is that bribery is not a traffic ticket. To the contrary, it is classified as a second-degree felony under Florida law. This means that conviction of even attempting to bribe a public official can land a person in jail for up to 15 years.
Contact Attorney Luke Newman Today
There are, of course, many innocent acts that may be misconstrued as bribery by overzealous prosecutors. Say you give a birthday gift to a friend who happens to be a local official. If that friend later makes a decision that indirectly benefited you, a prosecutor may infer that bribery occurred even if that was not the case. At the same time, do not expect the State’s Attorney to accept your explanation of events.
If you are facing investigation or indictment for bribery or any related public corruption offense, contact the offices of Luke Newman, P.A., today to schedule a consultation.