Corruption is a serious issue not just in America, but throughout the world. It wastes the taxes earned from hard-working citizens that would have otherwise been spent to improving the overall quality of life in the country. Often, corruption is manifested through the act of bribery. A person approaches a public official and offers a huge sum of money in exchange for immunity from legal consequences. But just as how pocketing government funds is illegal, attempting to bribe a public official into doing something that is unlawful is also a crime.
Under California Penal Code PC 67, anyone who gives or offers any bribe to an executive officer shall be prosecuted. The motives behind the bribery could be:
- To change the officer's decision;
- To change the officer's vote;
- To change the officer's opinion; or
- Any other acts.
Furthermore, the following conditions must be true in order to be found guilty of violating California Penal Code PC 67:
- The defendant actually offered, or attempted to offer, a bribe to an executive official; and
- The defendant acted with corrupt intent to control the official's decision, vote, or opinion.
Remember that a person can only have a corrupt intent if he/she acted for the purpose of personal gain. Meanwhile, a bribe is anything of value, be it materialistic or not. Common examples of a bribe include:
- Money or any material that holds financial value;
- Lavish gifts; and
- Recognition, medals, or certificates; and
Read the list below to learn about common scenarios that would violate California Penal Code PC 67:
- Upon passing through a DUI checkpoint, the owner of the biggest designer bags in the country was arrested for having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than the legal amount. The wife, fearing that her husband's arrest would discourage investors, sent a letter to the district attorney where she promised $1,000,000 in cash if he dropped the DUI charge.
- A prostitute was seen loitering near a playground where there are several kids present. Concerned parents immediately informed the police, and officers were dispatched to bring the woman into police custody. When the officers arrived at the scene and informed the prostitute of her offense, she then offered her service for free to the officers on the condition that they let her go.
- A 45-year-old man has been working as a peace officer for more than 2 decades in the Los Angeles Police Department. However, he hasn't been very honest with his job. The department's police chief just discovered that he has been involved drug trafficking. As a result, he decided to take the badge back from him. Desperate to keep his position, the ex-police officer then decided to offer 5.5 million dollars worth of cocaine in exchange for his job.
Observe that only acts of bribery given to executive officials are subjected to California Penal Code PC 67. What about other state employees? Well, that is covered by the following bribery-related laws:
- Bribing a public employee (California Penal Code PC 67.5)
- Executive officer accepting a bribe (California Penal Code PC 68)
- Bribery by a legislator (California Penal Code PC 85)
- Bribery of a legislator (California Penal Code PC 86)
- Bribery of judges and jurors (California Penal Code PC 92 & 93)
- Bribery of county supervisors and public corporations (California Penal Code PC 165)
A person who offers a bribe to an executive officer shall be guilty of a felony offense where the penalties are as follows:
- Imprisonment for either two, three, or four years in state prison;
- Fines of up to $10,000
- Ineligibility from holding any executive or non-executive position in California.
Take note that an executive officer does not have to accept the bribe in order for the defendant to be guilty of bribing.
A charge under California Penal Code PC 67 is as serious as it gets. Therefore, you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney on your side. Aside from making sure that you will be properly represented in court, they will also be able to discuss the following defenses that you could use to challenge your charge:
- The bribe was not offered to an “executive officer”;
- There was no corrupt intent; or
You were entrapped into doing something you normally would not do.
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