Bribery and Illegal Gratuity – 18 U.S.C. § 201

Basics Of Bribery And Illegal Gratuity

Bribery and illegal gratuity are two closely related offenses that involve giving, offering, or promising to give anything of value to a public official in exchange for or because of an official act. The law is codified at 18 U.S.C. § 201.

The main difference between bribery and illegal gratuity is the intent involved. Bribery requires proof of a quid pro quo-an exchange of money for an official act. Illegal gratuity, on the other hand, merely requires a gift of money because of an official act.

Potential Defenses to Bribery and Illegal Gratuity Charges

Courts applying this law have found important exceptions. For example, there needs to be a specific link between some official act and the money or thing of value given. Thus, campaign contributions are not bribes because they are given in the hope that the candidate will do something. Similarly, gifts to establish general goodwill are not considered bribes or illegal gratuity because they are given not for any specific act.

There are also other defenses. Examples include entrapment, duress, and violations of due process. These defenses are highly fact-specific and require the attorney to have a thorough understanding of general criminal law principles in addition to the facts of your case. It is important to speak with an attorney experienced in handling bribery cases if you are charged with or under investigation for bribery.

Penalties for Bribery and Illegal Gratuity

Bribery is the more serious offense of the two, and conviction carries penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000 (or triple the value of the bribe, whichever is greater). Illegal gratuity, by contrast, carries a penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000.

The attorneys at Burnham and Gorokhov, PLLC, have successfully represented individuals charged with bribery offenses, including individuals accused of giving bribes as well as those accused of receiving bribes. If you or someone you know has been charged with a bribery offense, please contact us using the contact form for a free consultation.