Penal Code 68 PC | Bribery by Public Employees

California Penal Code 68 PC – Bribery of Public Employees

California Penal Code 68 PC is the state’s anti-bribery law that applies specifically to public employees. It prohibits bribing, or attempting to bribe, public officials and employees. Bribery involves giving or offering to give something of value with the intent to influence the behavior of a public servant. This article provides an overview of the law, penalties, and legal defenses.

What the Law Says

Penal Code 68 PC states that any person who gives or offers a bribe to any public employee or official with the intent to influence their behavior is guilty of a felony. The maximum sentence is 3 years in county jail.

A bribe dosen’t have to be money. It can be anything of value, like gifts, vacations, event tickets, etc. The key is that it’s given with corrupt intent to influence the public servant’s actions.

The law also prohibits public employees from asking for, agreeing to receive, or accepting bribes. This applies to all government workers at the federal, state, and local level.

Examples of Unlawful Bribery

Here are some examples of bribery prosecuted under PC 68:

  • A contractor pays a city inspector $5,000 to approve substandard construction work.
  • A defendant offers concert tickets to a DMV employee in exchange for help getting a driver’s license.
  • A company gifts a legislator a new car so they’ll vote for a bill favoring the company.

Even if the public servant never acts on the bribe, merely offering it with corrupt intent is illegal. The deal dosen’t have to be formalized or explicit. As long as the gift is clearly given in anticipation of influencing behavior, charges can apply.

Penalties for Bribery of Public Employees

Bribery under Penal Code 68 PC is a felony punishable by:

  • Up to 3 years in county jail
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Informal probation

If the bribe is to influence testimony or information about a crime, it may be charged as felony witness bribery under Penal Code 137 PC. This carries up to 4 years in prison.

Defendants with no prior criminal record are often eligible for misdemeanor diversion programs like deferred entry of judgement. This allows charges to be dismissed after completing rehabilitative conditions like:

  • Community service
  • Restitution
  • Counseling

Public employees convicted of soliciting or accepting bribes face harsher penalties. They may be fired and permanently barred from working in government.

Legal Defenses

There are several legal defenses that can be raised in a PC 68 case:

  • No corrupt intent – If the gift was not given with intent to influence behavior, it may not meet the legal definition of a bribe.
  • Entrapment – Where a public employee was induced or coerced into accepting a bribe by overzealous law enforcement.
  • False accusations – The allegations against the defendant are fabricated or mistaken.

An experiencd white collar crimes lawyer can evaluate the evidence and determine the strongest defense strategy.

Related Offenses

Other bribery laws in California include:

Federal bribery laws like 18 USC 201 may also apply when public corruption crosses state lines.

Hiring an Attorney

Facing bribery charges can have severe consequences for someone’s career and reputation. An experiencd criminal defense lawyer can advise on the best defense strategies and work to achieve the most favorable resolution to the case. They will thoroughly examine the evidence and determine whether police obtained it through lawful methods. For public employees, they may advocate for disciplinary measures short of termination.