The idea of bribery is one that everyone understands and conjures images of the movies where someone hands an official a ‘pie box full of money’ in order to motivate that person to do them a favor. Clearly, two people are involved – the person asking for the favor and the official who potentially grants that request.
In Colorado, our law, unsurprisingly, reflects that dynamic.
A person can be charged with, and convicted of, bribery if he or she “offers, confers, or agrees to confer any pecuniary benefit upon a public servant with the intent to influence the public servant’s vote, opinion, judgment, exercise of discretion, or other action in his official capacity.” A pecuniary benefit can be tangible or intangible – this could mean a direct payment in the form of cash or other items of value or could be something indirect like political favors or benefits.
Similarly, a person can be charged with, and convicted of, bribery if he or she, while a public servant, “solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept any pecuniary benefit upon an agreement or understanding that his vote, opinion, judgment, exercise of discretion, or other action as a public servant will thereby be influenced.”
The language from both situations is similar – that is purposeful. This statute, or law, is designed to punish both sides of the transaction.
When reading the law, one may ask themselves – “who is a ‘public servant?’” That is a great question. If the person that someone attempted to influence wasn’t a public servant then that person cannot be convicted of this offense. This question or who is a “public servant” is a ‘question of law’ and, as such, is determined by the Judge.
Further, the statute tells us that “it is no defense to a prosecution under this section that the person sought to be influenced was not qualified to act in the desired way, whether because he had not yet assumed office, lacked jurisdiction or for any other reason.”
Bribery is a class 3 felony. As such, a conviction for bribery can include up to 12 years in jail and/or fine up to $750,000. It is a more serious offense than the related offense Attempt to Influence a Public Servant.
Contact the experienced Denver defense attorneys at the Law Office of Jacob E. Martinez to set up a free consultation about your case.