Aggressive Sevierville White Collar Defense Attorneys Representing Clients Accused of Bribery

Skilled defense for clients in Sevier County, the Tri-Cities region, and throughout East Tennessee

A “gift.” A “perk.” Hush money. Kickbacks: you’ve heard these words before. They are all synonyms for bribery, the act of offering or accepting money, favors, property, or anything of value in exchange for influence. In order to be charged with bribery at the federal level, however, you must be accused of bribing a public official, elected or appointed.

Delius & McKenzie, PLLC understands how serious a federal bribery charge is. Our Sevierville white collar defense attorneys have the skills, experience and resources to represent those who stand accused of bribery, or accused of taking a bribe, in every level of the court. We also handle cases involving public corruption charges, which often go hand-in-hand with a bribery charge.

Does bribery only involve public officials?

Generally, no – it doesn’t. A pharmaceutical company which offers nice lunches and “consultant fees” to doctors who push their expensive medications, or the professional athlete who “throws” a game in exchange for a large payout, or the business owner who offers perks and an under-the-table “salary” to a rival’s employee in exchange for passing off trade secrets: each of these examples falls under the umbrella of bribery. They are not, however, examples of the federal crime of bribery. These acts, however, may be illegal under securities fraud, wire fraud, or other criminal statutes.

Federal laws about bribery

Federal bribery charges are reserved for people who attempt to bribe federal officials, and for officials who accept the bribes. As per federal statute 18 U.S. Code § 201, this includes any:

“Member of Congress, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, either before or after such official has qualified, or an officer or employee or person acting for or on behalf of the United States, or any department, agency or branch of Government thereof, including the District of Columbia, in any official function, under or by authority of any such department, agency, or branch of Government, or a juror.”

The individual does not have to be elected; it may include nominees, appointees, or anyone in the transitional period between being elected and taking office (i.e., “Senator-elect John Doe”).

Penalties for gratuities and bribes

The U.S. Department of Justice outlines the difference between bribes and “gratuities” (a word never actually used in the statute) in terms of the length of time between which an offering was made or accepted, and an act was committed. From the DoJ’s Offices of the U.S. Attorneys:

“If the connection is causally direct – if money was given essentially to purchase or ensure an official act, as a ‘quid pro quo’ then the crime is bribery. If the connection is looser – if money was given after the fact, as ‘thanks’ for an act but not in exchange for it, or if it was given with a nonspecific intent to ‘curry favor’ with the public official to whom it was given – then it is a gratuity.”

The difference is important in terms of sentencing and penalties. A bribery conviction could lead to a maximum of 15 years in prison, whereas a gratuity has a maximum sentence of two years. In both scenarios, there is a five-year statute of limitations for bringing charges, though this statute may be exceeded in cases involving additional violent or capital crimes.

Work with a Sevierville bribery defense lawyer you can trust

At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, we build creative defense strategies for clients facing charges of bribing a public official, and for public officials accused of graft. If you have been charged with federal crime like bribery, we are your line of defense. Please call 865-280-3686 or fill out our contact form, and get started on protecting your future, today. We are proud to represent clients in East Tennessee, including those in and around Bristol, Johnson City, Kingsport, Greeneville, Seymour, Sevierville, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.