Sincerity Is Not A Crime - California Bribery Laws

Posted by Neil Shouse | May 05, 2010 | 0 Comments

California has a number of criminal bribery charges. Some involve bribing public officials, some involve private businesses, some involve jurors, and some involve witnesses. But no matter who the “players” are that are involved in the alleged bribe, there is one defense that is common to them all. If you don't have an ill motive or a corrupt intent, you aren't guilty of violating California's bribery laws.

Take, for example, Penal Code 165 PC, California's law against bribing County Supervisors or Public Corporations. Before prosecutors can convict you under Penal Code 165 PC for bribing a County Supervisor or a Public Corporation (or for being a County Supervisor or Public Officer who has accepted a bribe), they must be able to prove that you had a corrupt intent.

This means that if you simply suggest that a supervisor act in a specific way in order for him/her to obtain a benefit, or offer services or something else of value to show appreciation for a particular act…and you in turn receive a benefit from the transaction…you aren't guilty of violating this California bribery law.

All California bribery offenses necessarily include corrupt motive…it's the reason why bribery is illegal. This means that if you can prove that your intentions were sincere and not driven by any inappropriate objectives, you should be acquitted of any criminal wrongdoing. (Refer to our article as "Blackmail as a crime in California.")

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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