Miami Bribery Defense Attorneys
Federal Florida criminal lawyers on your side
Bribery is a concept that is understood all over the world and, for most people, the concept is understood from a very early age. In the interest of promoting the notions of equal access and transparency, federal law in the U.S. prohibits government officials from soliciting and receiving bribes; it is also illegal to give a bribe to a public official. Bribes that involve government officials are given or requested with the intent to influence or alter the behavior or others in a corrupt manner. Although the law does not require the existence of a written agreement between the parties involved, the prosecution must establish that there was corrupt intent behind the exchange. If you find yourself facing these types of federal charges in Miami, immediately consult with a Miami bribery defense lawyer to assess your case and discover the best path forward.
Proving bribery in federal court
While Miami prosecutors have leeway in the types of evidence they may introduce to prove an agreement to exchange a bribe existed, the government follows specific guidelines in prosecuting federal employees in bribery cases:
- the individual involved must be a public official, which may include elected officials, everyday people who work government jobs, and all government positions that fall in between those levels
- something of value must be offered, whether tangible or intangible
- there must be an official act that may be influenced by the bribe
- the public official must have the ability to perform the act
- the other party must have offered the bribe with the intent of receiving a desired result
- the prosecution must establish that there is a causal relationship between the act and the item or service exchanged
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
In some countries, bribery is considered a very normal activity in the usual course of business. However, the federal government passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to prohibit U.S. citizens from paying foreign officials to obtain business. The act also applies to certain foreign issuers of securities. In 1998, the act was revised, making it applicable to foreign firms and foreign nationals who act in the furtherance of a corrupt exchange while in the U.S. Individuals who find themselves accused of bribery should call a bribery defense attorney in Miami who is experienced in handling federal cases. Bribery is punishable by federal imprisonment, and people who are convicted may be ordered to pay a large fine.
Bribery of a witness
Similar to bribing a public official, federal law also prohibits bribery of a witness. Bribery of a witness typically occurs in one of two ways:
- a witness is offered money or another benefit in exchange for changing his or her testimony
- a witness seeks money in exchange for changing his or her testimony or in exchange for not giving his or her testimony at all
It is also important to note that a person may be charged with a federal offense even if the bribe is not accepted. Therefore, it is illegal to attempt to offer a bribe or to conspire to change the outcome of the witness’ testimony through bribery. Both people may still be prosecuted and convicted even if the witness ultimately testifies and tells the truth. Federal bribery laws apply to all court trials, hearings, and testimony under oath or affirmation before any government agency. In addition to bribing a witness, “witness rewarding” occurs if a person wants to give a witness a gift, not to change or influence testimony, but to thank to witness for coming forward. Witness rewarding is also prohibited in Miami; however, it is treated as a lesser offense in contrast to witness bribery.
Bribery and extortion
Extortion is often confused with bribery. While bribery describes the offer of a benefit in exchange for performing an action, extortion refers to the exchange or request for a benefit in response to a threat to do harm to the victim or his or her associates. There are some cases in which it may be less apparent whether bribery or extortion is at play. Sometimes a case may involve both. For example, if a government official threatens to disclose that a popular bar is illegally serving alcohol, and in response, the bar owner pays an extra benefit to expedite a liquor license and bring the bar into compliance, both parties may be accused of bribery while the public official may be accused of extortion.
Defenses to a federal bribery charge
There are multiple ways a Miami bribery defense lawyer may decide to approach defending a client against a bribery charge. If a friend of a public official purchases an expensive birthday gift at the same time the friend is applying for a particular license or permit, the friend is not likely to be convicted of bribery if he or she has a regular pattern of purchasing expensive gifts for the public official’s birthday. In this case, a Florida bribery defense lawyer would argue the defendant had no intent to bribe the public official. Cases that are limited to intrastate subject matter may be dismissed from federal court because the federal court lacks jurisdiction. In other cases, the prosecution may opt to dismiss a case if the government lacks sufficient evidence to prove a connection between the alleged bribe and the public official’s actions or if they are unable to establish the existence of an agreement to exchange a bribe.
Contacting a federal defense lawyer
Bribery cases are often confusing and may be difficult for prosecutors to prove. Therefore, anyone who has been accused of bribery in Miami should immediately contact a Florida bribery defense attorney to discuss the implication of the charge and to map out a strategy for building an effective case for the accused party’s defense. Joffe Law, P.A. has handled more than 1,100 cases and stands ready to help you fight your charges.