It is a Nevada crime for judges or jurors to solicit or receive bribes in exchange for a verdict. It is also a crime for someone else to offer a bribe – or agree to pay a bribe – to a judge or juror.
Judicial bribery is a category C felony in Nevada carrying one to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. But it may be possible to get the charge dismissed by showing there was no intent to sway the judicial officer’s decision-making.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What are Nevada’s judicial bribery laws?
- 2. Which defenses are most effective?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Is my criminal record sealable?
- 5. Related bribery offenses
1. What are Nevada’s judicial bribery laws?
It is illegal in Nevada to try to sway a judge, juror, or any other judicial officer to rule in a certain way in return for:
- a favor, or
- anything else of value.
It does not matter if the judicial officer does not accept the bribe. Merely offering is an offense in Nevada.
Conversely, it is also illegal when judges or jurors ask for or receive a bribe in order to sway their decision-making. It makes no difference if compensation never ends up changing hands or if the judicial officer breaks their promise to deliver the promised verdict: Simply asking for a favor in return for a court ruling violates Nevada judicial bribery law.1
2. Which defenses are most effective?
Based on our experience fighting judicial bribery charges, there are three solid defenses that can get the case reduced or dismissed:
- There was no intent to trade favors for a verdict. If you participated in an otherwise legal business transaction with someone else, you cannot be found guilty of judicial bribery just because one of you is a judge juror. If the prosecutor cannot show you intended to carry out a bribe, no crime occurred.
- Entrapment. If law enforcement suspects you may engage in judicial bribery, they may actually use undercover officers to try to get you to agree to a judicial bribe and then arrest you if you do. If we can show that you were not predisposed to bribery and that you would not have carried out the bribe but for the police’s pressure, the charges should be dropped. (Visit our page on entrapment for a more detailed discussion.)
- Coercion. Perhaps you were “coerced” into making or accepting a bribe. If we can show you were threatened and acted only out of fear of harm, the case should be dismissed.
Example: Judy is a juror in a Reno DUI causing death trial. During a break after closing arguments, the defendant’s sister accosts her outside district court and offers her $10,000 to vote not guilty “or else.” The sister then motions to her gun holster.
Scared for her life, Judy accepts the money. But since the sister coerced her by threatening her safety, she may be able to escape criminal liability for accepting a bribe.
3. What are the penalties?
Judicial/juror bribery is a category C felony under Nevada law. The sentence is:
- 1 to 5 years in state prison, and
- up to $10,000 in fines.2
It is irrelevant whether you are a judge or juror accepting a bribe or an ordinary citizen making a bribe to a judge or juror. Anyone convicted of judicial bribery faces the same felony punishments, and judicial officers are not given special treatment or leniency under state law.
4. Is my criminal record sealable?
Yes. A judicial bribery conviction can be sealed from your criminal record five years after the case ends. But if the criminal charge gets dismissed, then you can ask the court to seal your record right away.3
Learn more about how to seal criminal records in Nevada.
5. Related bribery offenses
- Witness bribery (NRS 199.240; NRS 199.250)
- Commercial bribery (NRS 207.295)
- Public officer/public official bribery (NRS 197.010 – .040)
- Sports bribery (NRS 207.290)
Note that bribery is also a crime under federal law, typically when it affects interstate commerce. See our articles on bribery to influence a sporting event (18 U.S.C. 224) and witness bribery (18 U.S.C. 201).
Arrested? Contact our Las Vegas, NV defense lawyers for legal advice. Our criminal law firm fights felony, gross misdemeanor, and misdemeanor cases in Clark County and throughout the state of Nevada.
Go back to our Las Vegas Bribery Law main page.
In Colorado? Go to our informational article on California judicial bribery laws.
- NRS 199.010. Bribery of judicial officer. A person who gives, offers or promises, directly or indirectly, any compensation, gratuity or reward to a judicial officer, juror, referee, arbitrator, appraiser, assessor or other person authorized by law to hear or determine any question, matter, cause, proceeding or controversy, with the intent to influence his or her action, vote, opinion or decision thereupon, is guilty of a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
NRS 199.020. Judicial officer who asks for or receives bribe. A judicial officer who asks or receives, directly or indirectly, any compensation, gratuity or reward, or any promise thereof, upon an agreement or understanding that his or her vote, opinion, judgment, action, decision or other official proceeding will be influenced thereby, or that the judicial officer will do or omit any act or proceeding or in any way neglect or violate any official duty, is guilty of a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
NRS 199.030. Jurors and others accepting bribes. A juror, referee, arbitrator, appraiser, assessor or other person authorized by law to hear or determine any question, matter, cause, controversy or proceeding, who asks or receives, directly or indirectly, any compensation, gratuity or reward, or any promise thereof, upon an agreement or understanding that his or her vote, opinion, action, judgment or decision will be influenced thereby, is guilty of a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
See, for example, In re Miller, (Nevada Supreme Court, 1971) 87 Nev. 65, 482 P.2d 326; U.S. v. Gordon (9th Cir., 1981) 641 F.2d 1281.
- NRS 199.010-.030.
- NRS 179.245. NRS 179.255.