The process of investigating federal bribery charges can be complex. There are many aspects of a DC federal public corruption and bribery investigation that it is good to be aware of if you are facing bribery charges. By being aware of the protocol of federal public corruption investigations, you can make more informed legal decisions and, will be aware of what to expect as you go through the investigation. A skilled and experienced lawyer will be your strongest ally in ensuring that your rights are protected from beginning to end.
One of the aspects of a DC federal public corruption and bribery investigation that is important to keep in mind is time. The time needed for bribery and public corruption investigations can vary dramatically from case to case. A bribery investigation can be a longer investigation than other types because the authorities must establish all of their evidence before they go forward with an arrest.
In a situation where someone violates the law, the government can prove that quite easily. For example, a drug case or a gun case can be resolved quickly. The investigation in those cases does not necessarily take a long time. A bribery case can take a longer time but could be as little as a few days to as long as a few years.
Another one of the aspects of a DC federal public corruption and bribery investigation concerns the approaches taken. The investigations usually take years to build a case. The agents do a wide, thorough investigation in these cases. Usually, there are subpoenas for records such as bank records, emails, and texts from the service providers. The government obtains all the documentation available because the evidence in a bribery case usually takes the form of documentation.
The investigating agents search for evidence of intent and of the transaction in the form of emails, bank records to show unexplained cash deposits, and gift exchanges. They use search warrants to search the homes or businesses places of suspects.
Generally, the government does all of the work behind the scenes before the arrest. Banks generally do not inform their customers that the United States Attorney’s Office has served them with a subpoena to obtain bank records and they are complying. Google, on the other hand, typically does alert many of their customers that there is a subpoena and they intend to comply with it. Many of the subpoenas are so broad that they invite their customers to challenge them if they want to.
Agents talk to many people to see if they can get a witness to what actually happened. Sometimes they use undercover agents to try to infiltrate someone’s business to see if they can get a public official to accept the bribe, which, for all intents and purposes is a sting operation. If a person is caught trying to bribe someone, the agents might negotiate with that person to become a cooperating witness. The person then goes back and tries to do more transactions with the same public official so the agents can catch them in further crimes.
Law enforcement usually conducts interviews. The FBI is extremely effective at persuading people to give testimony and provide evidence against others because they are federal law enforcement and it is against the law to lie to an FBI agent.
There is a conflict of interest only in narrow circumstances where an employee at the United States Attorney’s Office or the Department of Justice is charged with bribery. There is usually no conflict of interest because even though one employee in a federal government is being prosecuted by another employee government, they are from completely different sections.
It is not necessarily against the law to lie to a Metropolitan Police Department officer, although there are certain circumstances where it is. A person can be prosecuted in federal court for not telling the truth to an FBI agent and they are not afraid to let the person know that. The agents can intimidate the person and witnesses during an investigation. The agents want to identify all the evidence, so they talk to people. Talking to people may occur towards the end of the investigation because the agents do not want to alert their target that there is an investigation going on.
The government always looks for the smoking gun. They look for email exchanges, phone messages, text messages, and anything else that establishes a quid pro quo transaction between a public official and someone else. Often there is no smoking gun when they examine records, but they need to establish the connection between the public official and the other party.
Bank records can expose bribery because usually, a bribe takes the form of money. It does not have to because anything of value is sufficient. But, most often a bribe is in the form of cash paid to someone to take some action. The authorities look for any unusual, unaccounted for sums of money that suddenly appear in the public official’s account. They look at the travel habits of the public official to see if they are suddenly taking expensive trips or going to a specific location where the other suspect is located.
For example, the authorities believe an individual who is an officer of a company in Florida is trying to influence a legislative person or official in an agency. Suddenly, that official in the agency is taking trips to Florida and that appears suspicious. Federal agents look at the activities of the parties they are investigating including their transactions and their official duties. If there are any anomalies with regard to their official duties or they can tie the timing of what they suspect was a bribe to the time of an official action or a decision not to take an action of that official, they look at that closely as well.
One of the most important aspects of a DC federal public corruption and bribery investigation is the approach the prosecution takes to investigating charges. Prosecutors usually try to bring a live witness to court. Powerful testimony is quite effective for the government. They most likely have a large amount of documentary evidence including bank records, emails, texts, or transcripts from phone calls, and things of that nature to establish that the transaction or offer occurred.
The District is a unique jurisdiction because the primary prosecutorial agency for all cases that are brought in the District of Columbia is the United States Attorney’s Office with the federal prosecutors. Even the vast majority of state-level equivalent cases in DC Superior Court are brought by the United States Attorney’s Office. A bribery charge is brought forward by a federal prosecutor in federal court in the District of Columbia.