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What is the Penalty for Receiving Bribes in California?

What is the Penalty for Receiving Bribes in California

What is the Penalty for Receiving Bribes in CaliforniaCalifornia relies on numerous public officials to conduct public business in an honest, fair manner. If every public official in the state readily accepted bribes, our sense of law and order would quickly fall apart. Not only that, but the people would lose faith in the democratic process and the underlying principle of equality – two foundations of our society in the Golden State. Because of these factors, the State of California takes allegations of bribery very seriously. If you have been accused of bribery, you might be wondering what kind of consequences you might be facing.

The best way to find out more about your unique situation is to get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney in California. These legal professionals can assess your unique situation and offer targeted guidance – something that just is not possible with internet research. Based on your specific circumstances, lawyers at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP can get you started with an effective defense strategy. Reach out today to start fighting against bribery charges and protect your reputation.

Examples of Bribery Charges in California

To understand how California responds to instances of alleged bribery, it may help to examine a few examples of these crimes:

On July 3, 2023, it was reported that a Customs and Border Protection Officer had been bribed by criminals. In exchange for accepting these bribes, he allegedly allowed “drug-laden” vehicles to pass through the section of the US border he was responsible for overseeing. These vehicles allegedly contained large amounts of fentanyl and meth. In addition to the bribery charges, he also faces charges of conspiring to import and distribute controlled substances.

As the authorities looked closer into this matter, they found that the defendant had allowed cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and meth to move through the border. The Justice Department stressed that the maximum penalty for receiving bribes as a public official in California is 15 years in prison. He also faced many decades of potential prison time for importing controlled substances, distributing controlled substances, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Because this incident involves other offenses (drug smuggling), it is likely that this individual will face the full brunt of the law when sentenced.

It is also worth noting that people in California can face consequences for paying bribes. In June of 2023, it was reported that a well-known Chinese business tycoon had “agreed to be extradited” to the United States for allegedly paying bribes to secure real estate contracts in California. Specifically, he was accused of giving kickbacks to win permits for one particular real estate project in San Francisco. This particular individual made headlines last year after agreeing to lock himself in his London penthouse suite rather than go to jail. It is not clear whether courts in California will be quite so lenient.

Real estate is a sector in which allegations of bribery are somewhat common – especially in California. In April of 2023, it was reported that the owners of two California-based contracting companies had been sentenced to prison for bid-rigging and bribery. One contractor was sentenced to four years and one month in prison, while the other was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison. These individuals were also ordered to pay close to $1 million each in restitution. This illustrates the type of consequences people may face in California for alleged acts of bribery and it highlights the need for experienced defense attorneys.

One of these individuals received bribes in the form of cash, wine, furniture, and home remodeling services in exchange for the award of contracts. These bribes had a value of almost $800,000. This also shows that bribes can take many different forms and not just cash.

With its long-standing decriminalization of marijuana, California has also seen many corruption and bribery cases involving the cannabis industry. California union officials have been indicted for accepting bribes and interfering with organizing in this industry. In addition, a cannabis entrepreneur eventually pleaded guilty to bribing officials in California.

The Penalties for Bribery in California

In California, the crime of bribery involves giving or accepting bribes with “corrupt intent.” The goal of bribery is to influence a person in “any public or official capacity.” These people may include:

  • State legislators
  • City legislators
  • County legislators
  • Members of school districts
  • Judges
  • Jurors
  • Board members
  • Elected public servants
  • Witnesses

The penalties for bribery in California depend on the unique circumstances of each crime. Most bribery offenses in California come with a maximum sentence of four years in prison. Probation is also possible. Commercial bribery may be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor. Bribes of less than $1,000 result in misdemeanor charges, while anything above this amount tends to result in felony charges.

How Do I Defend Myself Against Bribery Charges?

There are a few viable defenses to bribery charges. First and foremost, you can argue that there was no “corrupt intent.” In other words, you didn’t intend to accept or provide the alleged bribe in order to circumvent any normal procedures or laws.

You might also argue that you were the victim of entrapment. This may involve an undercover agent encouraging you to provide or accept a bribe. You can argue that you would not have engaged in this behavior if the authorities did not encourage you to do so.

Where Can I Find a Qualified Criminal Defense Lawyer in California Today?

If you have been searching for an experienced criminal defense attorney in California, look no further than Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP. Over the years, we have assisted numerous defendants in the Golden State, including those accused of white-collar crimes like bribery. While it’s true that California takes these offenses quite seriously, there is no sense in simply sitting back and accepting your charges without putting up a fight. Book your consultation today to get started with an effective action plan tailored toward your unique needs.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.