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What constitutes bribery?

There is often a thin line between staying within the confines of the law and breaking it. If one is not sure where the line is, it can be quite easy to commit a crime that one was not even aware. For example, getting favorable treatment from someone is not a crime unless that treatment was the result of an award or payment. Bribery, as it is known, are actions that are intended to influence or alter the actions of someone else. It differs from extortion in that bribery offers a positive reward whereas extortion revolves around negative acts for compliance.

A written agreement is not needed to prove the crime of bribery, but the fact that an agreement was actually made needs to be proved. The most basic charge need only prove that an agreement about an exchange was made -- political influence for a sum of money or property. However, Ohio residents may not be aware that the crime of bribery also exists at the federal level and the elements of the federal crime are very specific.

As per the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act 1977, bribery of a public official is a federal offense. the person being bribed should be a public official and the "thing" being offered must have value, and can be either tangible or intangible. There must also be an existence of act that needs to be influenced -- for example pending legislation-and the public officer in question has the authority to commit the official act. The bribing party must intend to get the desired result and there must be a causal relationship between the payment and the act. Punishments under the act can be up to double the amount of the benefit expected to be received from the bribery and imprisonment can be given for up to five years.

Its better to err on the side of caution when dealing with public officials, but people often do not even know that their actions can be constituted bribery. However, white collar criminal charges can result for both the parties that can severely impact the rest of their life. It might be wise to speak to an experienced official on how to proceed.

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