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The classic idea of bribery involves the payment of money to a public official with the intent that it will influence their decisions. While this certainly qualifies as illegal under Alabama law, the full definition of bribery is far more expansive. A person can face charges of bribery not just if they attempt to influence a public official, but also if they attempt to influence a commercial decision.

A Birmingham bribery lawyer represents individuals who are facing charges for any form of bribery. An experienced attorney can work to help people understand why they are facing these charges and will form defenses to protect their rights in court.

Laws Concerning Bribery in Government

The classic definition of bribery is in Alabama Criminal Code §13A-10-61. This statute states that it is illegal for any person:

  • To offer or agree to offer any public servant anything of value to influence that officer’s vote, opinion, or judgment
  • To accept any pecuniary benefit as a public servant with the understanding being that a vote, opinion, or judgment will change

Therefore, it is equally illegal for a person to offer a bribe as it is to accept one. It does not matter whether the item is of relatively little value, such as a meal, nor does it matter if the item was not actually accepted. As with most other criminal accusations, the mere attempt to commit the crime is sufficient.

Commercial Bribery

It is also possible to commit bribery in the business world. Alabama Criminal Code §13A-1-121 creates the crime of receiving commercial bribery. Here, a person can face charges if:

  • A hiring agent accepts a gift or benefits from a person with an understanding that this gift will lead to employment
  • An employee or agent, without the consent of their employer, accepts any benefit from a person with the understanding that the benefit will influence their conduct with their employer

For example, an employee could face charges of accepting a commercial bribe if they accept tickets to a sporting event from a vendor with the understanding that they will talk to their boss about accepting a new contract. Just as with bribery of a public official, offering and receiving a bribe are equally illegal.

Penalties

As with any criminal accusation, the burden is on the prosecutor to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. However, any person facing an allegation of either type of bribery is facing harsh punishments. This is why it is crucial to have a Birmingham bribery attorney who is well-trained in these types of cases.

Receiving a commercial bribe is the lesser of the two offenses. The statute says it is a Class A misdemeanor. This means that a conviction can result in up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $6,000, or both. Also, this may remain on a person’s criminal record.

Bribery involving a public official is far more serious. The statute classifies this crime as a Class C felony. These convictions are punishable by a minimum prison sentence of one year and one day, up to a maximum of two years. A fine of up to $15,000 can also apply. People facing felony bribery charges can have their right to vote revoked as well as their right to own a firearm.

How a Birmingham Bribery Lawyer Can Help

Being accused of bribery can be difficult to understand. In many instances, a person faces these charges despite never actually exchanging anything of value. Still, the district attorney’s office takes allegations of bribery seriously and can press charges even if a person merely attempts to bribe another.

Whether a person is facing allegations of bribery of a public official, accepting a bribe, or participating in a commercial bribe, a Birmingham bribery attorney can help.

A lawyer can work to fully investigate every allegation and to formulate a defense that creates reasonable doubt concerning the prosecutor’s case. The potential penalties are severe, do not take any unnecessary chances. Contact a defense lawyer today.