Separation of Cash and State – a Look Into Bribery

Banks & Brower, LLC strongly encourages community involvement. Luckily, there are several avenues open to people in order to make an impact in their community. One way you can get involved in your community and play an active role is by voting. Get out and vote for the candidate who will fix the potholes (we all know this one is much needed), one who wants to preserve history while growing their community in an appropriate way, or just for someone you trust. This May all municipalities in the Indianapolis area are having their primary elections for local political offices.

Of course, voting is not the only way someone can impact their community. They may try to confer, offer, or agree to confer on a public official any item of value to influence the actions of that public official. This is bribery, deemed both illegal and immoral, and can be punishable with a criminal conviction.

Bribery is codified under Indiana Code as I.C. 35-44.1-1-2. A person who commits bribery is guilty of a level 5 felony in the state of Indiana and could face a sentence ranging from one year to six years with an additional $5,000 fine.

By definition in Indiana law, bribery occurs when a person confers, offers, or agrees to confer on a public official any item of value to influence the actions of the public official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.  The offense can occur either before or after the public official is appointed or elected. Any gift or item bestowed upon a public official to influence their actions is considered a bribe. A public official is capable of being convicted for bribery if they themselves seek out any item of value in return for an explicit promise or undertaking by the official to perform an official act in a certain manner; this means forming a quid-pro-quo relationship. Quid-pro-quo means “something for something” or a “favor for a favor.”

The thing of value must be something that the public official is not authorized to accept in their official capacity as a public official. Under Indiana law, court have held bribery to be a continuing offense. A series of payments between an individual and a public official constitutes bribery. It is the receiving or soliciting of the payment which is prohibited, it is not relevant whether the official was influenced or actually controlled.

An individual could be guilty of bribing a public official if they paid them in return for the influence over the public official in a zoning matter. Another example of an individual committing bribery is that person sending a county prosecutor a large sum of money so she will not prosecute you or someone you know.

The Indianapolis criminal defense attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC strongly encourage everyone to perform their civic duty by going out and voting, not by committing the crime of bribery. Instead of giving a candidate something of value in return for influence over their official conduct, vote on May 7th for the candidate who will best serve the interests you care about. An illegal quid-pro-quo relationship with a public official can result in you becoming a convicted felon, while going out to vote is much more simple, less financially burdensome (no criminal penalty and fine in addition to attorney’s fees), and does not result in the loss of your liberties.

If you or a loved one are being held for a bribery charge contact the experienced criminal law attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC. We are available 24/7 at info@banksbrower.com or (317) 870-0019 to discuss your situation and explain how much time you could be facing.