Bribery is a very serious crime in California, carrying stiff penalties of both prison time and fines upon conviction.
Bribery may be defined as providing, or attempting to provide, something of benefit to a public official to influence some action within that public official’s official duties. It is important to realize that bribery applies to both the individual who offered the bribe and the person who either sought or accepted the bribe. Additionally, it is not necessary that the bribe actually took place. It may be sufficient to prove bribery by intent and actions toward that intent without full completion of payment of the bribe.
Kickbacks are similar in natures to bribes in that they are some form of payment or benefit provided to induce a desired result, typically the present or future sale of goods. Unlike bribery, kickbacks are common in many industries and many people regard such payments as merely a perk.
But one must be careful. California law, under §541.3 of the Penal Code, prohibits employees from soliciting or accepting anything of value greater than $250.00 from anyone but their employer. This is known as the “commercial bribery” law.
Penalties apply to individuals on both sides of the transaction. Be sure you realize the value of any gifts you receive and understand that concealing it from your boss may constitute a crime.
If you have been charged with accepting or offering bribes or kickbacks, or if you suspect that you are under investigation, contact San Francisco white collar criminal attorney Christopher Morales to make sure your rights are protected.