A person commits the offense of bribery when he or she intentionally or knowingly offers to another person or solicits or accepts from another person any benefit in consideration of his or her decision, vote, or exercise of discretion as a public servant, a political party official, or a voter. The offense is also committed when the person offers, solicits, or accepts any benefit in consideration of a decision in a judicial or administrative proceeding or when the person offers, solicits, or accepts any benefit in consideration of the violation of a duty by a public servant or official. A political contribution may constitute the offense of bribery if the contribution is made under an agreement to exercise an official discretion or under an agreement to refrain from exercising an official discretion.
The offense of bribery is an illegal contract that is based upon an offer and an acceptance of a benefit. However, the offer need not be accepted in order to constitute the offense of bribery. The mere offer of the benefit is enough to constitute the offense. The word “benefit” means any monetary gain or advantage. There must be consideration for the benefit. The consideration may be the exercise of an official discretion or the failure to exercise an official discretion.
A public servant may be a governmental officer, employee, or agent, a juror or a grand juror, an arbitrator or a referee, an attorney or a notary public, a political party official or a political candidate, or anyone who is performing a governmental function. A person is a public servant even if he or she has only been elected to office and has not assumed the duties of his or her office.
In order to charge a defendant with the offense of bribery, an indictment must state the elements of the offense, that is, an offer, a solicitation, or an acceptance of a benefit. The indictment does not need to state the means by which the defendant was to carry out the benefit and does not need to allege that the defendant offered anything of value or had the ability to offer anything of value.
In order to convict a defendant of the offense of bribery, the prosecution does not need to show the existence of a specific offer. The offer may be inferred from the defendant’s acts and statements. The prosecution only needs to show that the defendant had the ability to make the offer and to comply with the offer. The prosecution does not need to show that the person to whom the offer was made understood or accepted the offer. The prosecution only needs to show that the offer was made in order to receive a benefit, which benefit would be conferred under an official act. The bribe does not need to take place in order for the offense to be complete. The offense is complete when the offer is made or when an agreement has been reached with regard to the benefit.
It is not a defense to bribery prosecutions that the person from whom the official act was sought was not qualified to perform the act. It is also not a defense that the person from whom the bribe was sought was no longer a public servant. Entrapment is often used as a defense to the offense of bribery.
The offense of bribery is normally classified as a felony.
Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.