DC Bribery Terms and Definitions

Bribery can be confusing if you do not understand the terms. For example, it can be difficult to determine whether an action is considered bribery without understanding who is considered a public official or who is considered the giver. An attorney can help clarify these DC bribery terms and definitions. With the help of a well-versed bribery attorney you can fully understand the offense under DC and federal law.

Who is Considered the Giver?

Both DC and federal bribery laws apply to someone who allegedly gives or offers a bribe to a public servant or official and the public servant or official who is receiving the alleged bribe. The same law applies on both sides. A person commits the criminal offense of bribery by offering a bribe to a public servant and the public servant commits the same offense of bribery by receiving or requesting a bribe from a private individual.

Illegal Gratuity in DC

Illegal gratuity is a crime that is similar to bribery as they both involve giving, offering, or promising to give something of value to a public official to influence their actions. The difference between the two is that bribery requires a quid pro quo which means a person offers the bribe in exchange for the public servant or public official to perform an official act. An illegal gratuity is instead defined as gifting money or something of value to a public official because of an official act they made. The difference is in the causation. An illegal gratuity means that the public official receives a gift because of an act they already committed.

With illegal gratuity, the government does not need to prove intent by the person paying the gratuity. Instead, it could be viewed as a person rewarding a public official for acting in a certain way or a public official receiving an award because of an action that took place. However, these can be closely connected offenses, so it is important that a defense attorney understands the gray area because gratuities carry lower penalties than bribery.

A Public Official in Bribery Cases

Under federal bribery laws, a public official is not required to be an employee of the federal government. A public official under federal laws could also be a person who acts on behalf of, or with the authority of any agency branch or department of the local DC government. Someone who is a part of a DC government agency, department, or branch could also face federal bribery charges. Under federal law, a public official is:

  • A member of Congress
  • An officer of the US government
  • An employee of the US government
  • A person acting on behalf of or with the authority of an agency, branch, or department of the government including the DC government
  • A juror

Under DC law, a public official is any officer, employee, or other person authorized to act for, or on behalf of the District of Columbia government. This includes any person who is elected, nominated, or appointed to be a public servant or a juror. However, a public servant does not include an independent contractor under DC law.

An Attorney Can Explain DC Bribery Terms and Definitions

If you have questions about DC bribery terms and definitions, an attorney can help. A well-versed lawyer can thoroughly explain the charges and work to advocate on your behalf. Call today for a consultation to get started.