Proving DC Federal Bribery Charges

The steps the prosecution will take to prove DC federal bribery charges depend largely on the specific circumstances. Because of that, the defense against the charges will also vary. A well-versed federal bribery lawyer can further explain how the prosecution will work to prove the charges.

What Are Prosecutors Looking For?

The first thing a prosecutor would look for when dealing with these cases is quid pro quo, which is the most important part of a bribery prosecution to prove. Not only does a prosecutor need to prove that a person gives, offers, or promises something of value to the public official, the prosecutors also need to prove that the intention behind the bribe is to induce the public official to act in violation of their lawful duty. This means that there is an exchange of a bribe for an action. That does not mean the prosecutors need to prove that the public official followed through on the act, but merely that the intention was that the bribe was meant to induce the public official to violate their lawful duty. That is the key element of a federal bribery prosecution.

The evidence typically used to prove these elements in bribery cases could vary greatly, depending on the facts of that specific case. Most commonly, the evidence gathered by prosecutors often includes emails between a public official and another person, bank transactions between the individuals, phone conversations, or secretly recorded conversations.

It is very common for the FBI to conduct undercover operations in which they use secret audio recordings or hidden cameras during conversations with people they suspect are taking bribes. The FBI will also use search warrants to obtain a person’s private emails or private banking or financial records.

Contested Issues in Federal Bribery Cases

In a bribery case, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a public official is given, offered, or promised something of value, either directly or indirectly, and that the person accused of giving or promising the bribe to the public official has the intent to induce the public official to act in violation of their lawful duty. Any of those elements could possibly be challenged or contested in a bribery case.

In some situations, there may be a question as to whether a certain person qualifies as a public official. Elected officials, many kinds of government employees, and heads of regulatory agencies are all public officials, but in some situations, that element may not be clear. For example, in situations involving certain types of government contractors, it may not be clear whether that person would be considered a public official.

The most commonly contested element in allegations of bribery is the question of the intent to induce the public official to act a certain way. In some situations, a person may not have the authority to act in a way that would benefit a person attempting to bribe that public official. In other situations, there may be perfectly lawful reasons for public officials to receive items of value that are not necessarily connected to acting in a certain way.

In other situations, even actions considered unethical or unsavory may not raise the level of a criminal act of bribery. A recent, high profile case is Virginia Governor Bob McDonald, who the Supreme Court found engaging in what many people consider being unsavory connections with the constituent. The Supreme Court found that Governor McDonald’s actions did not rise to the level of criminal bribery because there was not a specific quid pro quo, which is required in a bribery case.

Ask an Attorney About the Proving DC Federal Bribery Charges

Although the elements in every DC federal bribery charge are the same, the evidence may be different. Therefore, it is important to work with a skilled attorney who can build a defense based on the unique facts of your case. To learn more, call today for a consultation.