Taking a bribe is a violation of the Texas Penal Code that involves money or gifts offered to influence
a political official or public servant. Federal law enforcement and prosecutors can become
involved in cases where the public official is an employee of the federal government
or when the bribe violates federal wire fraud laws.
Houston criminal defense attorney Rand Mintzer knows that state and federal prosecutors consider
accepting a bribe as serious offenses against public administration. Most charges
are prosecuted as felony crimes that can result in long prison sentences
if people are convicted.
Chapter 36 of the Texas Penal Code defines corrupt influence and taking a bribe and the penalties judges may impose on those convicted of violating them. The statute includes three crimes involving money or gifts to public officials:
Bribery is the act of offering or accepting money or gifts that are intended to influence a public official in the exercise of the recipient’s decision, discretion or vote.
Offering a gift to a public servant is a crime when the person offering the gift does so with knowledge that the law prohibits the official from accepting it.
Improper influence is the act of seeking to influence a court or administrative agency proceeding by private communications with a public servant or government official.
Bribery is a second-degree felony punishable by a period of incarceration in prison and fines.
Depending upon the circumstances of the offense, a judge could sentence an
offender to probation in lieu of a period of incarceration.
Offering a gift to a public servant and improper influence are misdemeanor offenses punishable
by a period of incarceration in jail and a fine. A bribery defense attorney might be able to
persuade a judge that probation and a fine is a more appropriate sentencing
option depending upon the facts of the case.
Prosecutors for federal-level crimes have a tendency to request prison sentences as punishment
for federal bribery cases. The position taken by prosecutors and the strict sentencing
guidelines that judges must follow in federal criminal cases usually result in
prison sentences for the convicted.
Influencing public administration is difficult to prosecute or defend due to the complexities
of the criminal statutes. Houston criminal lawyer Rand Mintzer believes that a person
charged with offering or receiving a gift or money to influence a public official
needs an aggressive defense that challenges every aspect of the evidence
offered by the prosecution.