Bribery - One Name, Three Unique Crimes

Bribery is a unique crime in it’s variety and scope. There are three different acts that constitute bribery in Minnesota. They are: general bribery, which typically applies to government officials; commercial bribery for private industries; and bribing of a participant or official of a contest.

General Bribery

General bribery is when a person offers, gives, or promises to give, directly or indirectly, any benefit, reward or consideration to influence another person’s actions. Additionally, it occurs when a person requests, receives or agrees to receive, directly or indirectly, any such benefit, reward or consideration upon the understanding that it will influence the other party’s interests. It is bribery when the recipient is a public officer or employee, and the reward or benefit is directly or indirectly, related to the officer or employee’s duties. This is also the case when the recipient is or will be a witness in front of a judge or hearing officer, and the benefit or reward is in relation to the witness’ testimony. The last instance under this statute is when the recipient is able to give information in the prosecution of a crime and the bribe is in relation to giving or refraining to give such information. The possible punishments for this crime is a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and/or a $20,000 crime. If one of the participants is a government employee, they will lose their job and be forever disqualified from holding public office.

Commercial Bribery

Commercial bribery is similar but the context is a private business with the intent to injure or defraud the actor’s employer or principal. It is considered bribery when an individual offers, gives, or agrees to give, directly or indirectly, any benefit, consideration, compensation, or reward to any employee, agent or fiduciary of a person with the intent to influence the person’s performance of duties. As before, if the person requests, receives or agrees to receive, directly or indirectly, from another person any benefit, consideration, compensation, or reward with the understanding or agreement to be influenced in the performance of duties, it is also bribery. The most common instance of commercial bribery are kickbacks to gain or retain business. The penalty for commercial bribery depends on the value of the benefit or compensation. If the value is more than $500, an individual could face up to five years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine. If the value is $500 or less, it is a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum of 90 days in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine. One thing to keep in mind is a person charged with multiple commercial bribery charges within a six month period may face the greater penalty if these amounts add up to more than $500.

Bribery of a Participant or Official of a Contest

This instance of bribery is unique in that it only applies to the sports and entertainment industries. It occurs when an individual offers, gives, or agrees to give, directly or indirectly, any benefit, reward or consideration to a participant, manager, director, or other official with intent to influence the participant’s effort to win or to influence an official in their decisions. The most famous recent incident of this was NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who received thousands of dollars for each game that his benefactors paid him to ‘fix’. The potential punishment for this form of bribery is a maximum of five years of prison and/or a fine of $10,000. Additionally, failure to report any attempts to bribe or offering to be bribed is a gross misdemeanor, with a possible penalty of one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. Suspected bribery can be reported to the government, a manager, or an employer.

North Star Criminal Defense – Aggressive and Sophisticated Defense

Bribery crimes are complex charges and require sophisticated representation. Few criminal defense firms are truly qualified to handle these charges. With over 45 years of combined experience, the North Star Criminal Defense attorneys are the criminal defense team you need fighting for you.

We know that accusations of bribery can be devastating to your personal and professional life, and we understand how critical it is to present a diligent and aggressive defense on your behalf.  Often, managers, partners and employees are drawn into a white collar prosecution simply due to their presence on-site or conducting normal work activities.  Prosecutors may attempt to name as many defendants as possible to bring pressure on innocent participants to testify against their superiors.

As your attorney, we will resist these tactics and insist that prosecution support the charges against you with verifiable evidence. North Star Criminal Defense is your ally against unfounded charges or accusations, and we will work to clear your name and reputation.  Please contact us as soon as possible for a consultation so that we can begin to work on your defense today.