California Penal Code 165 pc
Bribery of County Supervisors or Public Corporations

An angry wind whipped across San Bernardino County in February 2010.  Prosecutors swept down into the high desert and blew two former officials straight to criminal court.  Both face years behind bars.  Both are accused of violating Penal Code 165 and other statutes in connection with an allegedly corrupt land deal.

In California, bribery of or by a member of a board of supervisors or public corporation is a serious offense.  It can cost you your reputation.  It can send you to jail.

If you are accused of violating Penal Code 165 pc, you need an experienced attorney who can help you negotiate this difficult terrain.  Our California Criminal Defense Lawyers can help.  We're former criminal prosecutors and law enforcement officers and we know how to defend these complex cases.

This article is about Penal Code 165 pc, one of California's bribery laws.  If you have questions after reading it, please give us a call at Shouse Law Group for a consultation.

You might also be interested in our related articles on

This article discusses:

1. Definition of bribe
2. Penal Code 165 pc - bribery of or by supervisors and public corporations
3. Defenses to a bribery charge
4. Penalties for a bribery conviction
1. Definition of bribe

A bribe is broadly defined in California law.  It happens when a public official corruptly trades his vote for money or something else of value.6

Bribery goes both ways...a person can be convicted for offering a bribe to a public official and a public official can be convicted for asking for a bribe.

2. Penal Code 165 pc - bribery of or by supervisors
and public corporations

California Penal Code Section 165 pc deals with bribes of or by members of county boards of supervisors and other local government officials.

PC 165 makes it a felony for:

  1. (A) any person to give or offer to a supervisor or (B) any supervisor to receive, or offer or agree to receive
  2. something of value
  3. with a corrupt intent
  4. to influence the supervisor's action in an official matter7

Members of boards of supervisors are not the only local government officials covered by PC 165?8 The statute covers:

  • board of supervisors members
  • common council members
  • county or city board of trustee members
  • public corporation members

As with all criminal cases, the prosecutor has the burden of proving his or her case under Penal Code 165 pc.  In doing so, the prosecutor can use a wide array of evidence, including direct and circumstantial evidence.

If you are accused of bribery you need an attorney who really knows the rules of keep harmful evidence out of the courtroom and present the case for your side of the story.  The attorneys at Shouse Law Group can help.

3. Defenses to a bribery charge

The penalties for bribery can be severe.  But it's important to remember that there are defenses to a PC 165 charge.  These include:

  • lack of any corrupt  intent
  • entrapment
  • coercion
  • intoxication

A bribery case often comes down to which side the jury believes.  It is critical that you have an experienced attorney who can effectively tell your side of the story.

You can read more about PC 165 defenses in our related article California bribery laws.

4. Penalties for a bribery conviction

Penalties for violating Penal Code 165 include:

  • imprisonment
  • forfeiture of office
  • disqualification from future office
Our California Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help...

If you or loved one is charged with Penal Code 165 pc bribery of county supervisors and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

To learn about bribery law in Nevada, go to our informational article bribery law in Nevada.


1See California Penal Code sections 67 and 68, dealing with bribery of executive officers and public employees.

2See California Penal Code sections 85 and 86 dealing with bribery of legislators.

3See California Penal Code sections 92 and 93, dealing with bribery of judges, judicial officers or jurors.

4See California Penal Code sections 137 and 138, dealing with bribery of witnesses regarding their attendance at trial or their testimony.

5See California Penal Code section 641.3, dealing the commercial bribery laws.

6California Penal Code Section 7(6) provides that:  "The word 'bribe' signifies anything of value or advantage, present or prospective, or any promise or undertaking to give any, asked, given, or accepted, with a corrupt intent to influence, unlawfully, the person to whom it is given, in his or her action, vote, or opinion, in any public or official capacity."  Penal Code Section 7(3) provides that:  "The word 'corruptly' imports a wrongful design to acquire or cause some pecuniary or other advantage to the person guilty of the act or omission referred to, or to some other person."

7California Penal Code Section 165.  ("Every person who gives or offers a bribe to any member of any common council, board of supervisors, or board of trustees of any county, city and county, city, or public corporation, with intent to corruptly influence such member in his action on any matter or subject pending before, or which is afterward to be considered by, the body of which he is a member, and every member of any of the bodies mentioned in this section who receives, or offers or agrees to receive any bribe upon any understanding that his official vote, opinion, judgment, or action shall be influenced thereby, or shall be given in any particular manner or upon any particular side of any question or matter, upon which he may be required to act in his official capacity, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three or four years, and upon conviction thereof shall, in addition to said punishment, forfeit his office, and forever be disfranchised and disqualified from holding any public office or trust.")

8As a result of 2006 amendments to Penal Code Sections 85 and 86 there appears to be overlap in coverage between those statutes and Penal Code 165.  See our related article Bribery (legislators) for more information.

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