According to the World Economic Forum, developing countries spend over $1.26 trillion each year fighting bribery, theft, corruption and tax evasion. You might not know it, but these white-collar crimes are considered serious offenses in Texas. You could get hit with a second-degree felony if you’re convicted of bribery.
So, what is bribery according to the law? How Texas law defines bribery makes the offense a crime even if you never receive any money out of the exchange. Are you currently facing a bribery charge? If so, then you’re likely wondering how the law defines bribery and the penalties associated with a conviction. Learn everything you need to know about bribery and how to defend yourself below.
How Texas Law Defines Bribery
Bribery happens when an individual holding a position of authority is influenced to act in a certain way in exchange for an item of value. In most situations, that item of value is money. When any type of benefit is offered to a public servant, it’s considered bribery by Texas law.
Bribes might happen in several circumstances like:
- Two parties agree to exchange something valuable for a vote, recommendation, or public statement
- Any benefit for the recipient’s official discretion in an administrative or judicial proceeding
- Benefits in exchange for a consideration to violate a duty imposed by law
- Making political payments for favor with business contracts
- Exchanging goods to a health inspector for ignoring a violation on his report
- Paying a judge to rule in your favor
- Offering goods and services to a legislator to vote a certain way
- Giving money to foreign officials for them to ignore worker’s rights violations
In a nutshell, an exchange of something valuable must occur between two parties. In most situations, one of those actors has some public or political influence. It can also happen between businesses, in the sporting industry, and even with foreign governments.
Penalties Associated with Bribery Charges in Texas
If you get charged with bribery, then you’ll be facing a second-degree felony charge. Don’t make the mistake of taking your actions or charges lightly. A felony charge could result in two to 20 years of prison time. On top of that, you could be subject to $10,000 in fees and future probation terms.
Even after you serve your time, a felony conviction will carry significant ramifications. You’ll have to report your conviction on job applications, you’ll lose your right to vote, and you can’t legally own firearms anymore.
As if that wasn’t enough, a bribery conviction can be used as evidence if you get hit with a civil lawsuit regarding the incident, too. That means you could end up paying the victim or victims of your bribery scheme if you’re sued in civil court. Keep in mind that you could face these civil consequences even if you are not convicted of bribery in criminal court. Criminal court usually has a higher standard of evidence than in civil court.
Do you currently work in a position of authority? If so, then getting charged with bribery can have professional consequences, too. You could be forced out of your role at work, especially if you’re serving as a government official or in an appointed position. You could end up losing your professional credibility even if you’re never ultimately convicted.
How to Defend Yourself Against Bribery Charges in Texas
Have you or a loved one been accused of bribery in Texas? The only way to avoid some significant penalties is to prevent a conviction in the first place. You should always utilize your Constitutional right to hire a defense attorney in these situations. Here are some of the most common defense strategies used in court against bribery charges:
- Mistake of fact (you didn’t do it)
- Reasonable doubt (not enough evidence against you)
- Lack of intent
When you’re trying to determine which strategy is best in your situation, you need to think about everything that happened. Consider what evidence the state has against you, and also try to remember how the police acted during the initial investigation.
Interesting Bribery Cases of the Past
Did you know that Richard Nixon ultimately resigned due to one of the most massive bribery schemes in history? The former president reportedly accepted countless funds in bribes from hundreds of companies during his campaign. All of the money was given to Nixon in the hopes of gaining favor in future legislation.
This outrageous act isn’t the only instance of bribery in the past, though. Just last year, Lori Loughlin broke America’s heart when she was charged with bribery. The former Full House actress, along with other affluent parents, reportedly paid bribes of anywhere from $200,000 – $6.5 million to different universities. In exchange, the intuitions gave their children favor when it came to admissions. Some colleges even claimed to recruit the children as athletes despite no former training.
Another well-known bribery scam happened with Siemens AG. The German engineering firm was accused of making multi-million contracts with other countries and securing contracts after bribing foreign government officials. When the truth came out, over eight employees were charged in criminal court. The company, which is still in operation today, agreed to pay over $1.6 billion in fines to both Germany and the U.S. as a result of their actions.
Bribery Penalties in Texas
Clearly, getting charged with bribery is taken very seriously in the state of Texas. Not only could you face criminal consequences, but you could also get hit with civil penalties, too. Getting charged with a felony comes with life-long restrictions. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to hire a skilled defense attorney if you or a loved one gets charged with bribery in Texas.
Are you looking for a lawyer to defend you in court? Have you unjustly been accused of bribery? Our experts are prepared to listen to your side of the story and help you determine your best legal option. Reach out to our firm now to discuss your situation.