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Understanding Maryland Federal Bribery Charges

Frequently, the people who are charged with bribery are business owners who do work for the government in one capacity or another. Sometimes they are contractors who are in a bidding situation to win a contract. Other times, they are in a situation in which they are trying to get information from the government that is not necessarily a contract but they could use for private benefit. Also, a business owner may be facing bribery charges for bribing officials to get tax breaks for their business.

This offense can run a fairly broad range of people who interact with the government in one way or another. Bribery is when a business owner is trying to get some sort of benefit or services from the government, who was accused of paying money or providing some other kinds of compensation to one of the government employees or officers.

If you are facing charges, you should reach out to an experienced bribery lawyer. Understanding Maryland federal bribery charges is crucial to building an effective defense.

Qualifying as a Public Official

A public official can be defined by laws on the books, but a good rule of thumb is that anyone who works for the government (county, state, or federal) is a public official of some kind who is going to qualify under the statute.

Usually, the federal prosecutors handle bribery cases that involve federal officials, but they can handle cases that involve state officials too. Sometimes the federal government will take cases that involve state officials, especially if they feel that there is some challenge with state officials handling the matter.

For example, there is a powerful state official and the federal prosecutors are concerned that the state prosecutors might not be as aggressive in handling that case as they should. The federal government can come in and handle that case.

What Constitutes Illegal Gratuity?

Gratuities are illegal in the context of trying to get a benefit that is inappropriate. For example, if a person buys dinner at a restaurant and they leave a tip, that is gratuity, but it is not illegal because they are not attempting to get any kind of special benefit. Instead, they are rewarding the person for good service.

However, if they give a gratuity to a government employee or official, and it is for some reason based on that person’s official capacity, then they can get sideways with the illegal gratuity rules.  They should also keep in mind that, in addition to unlawful gratuities, there are also ethical restrictions on some of these gratuities. Most public officials have limits as to what sort of gifts they can accept under any circumstances such as movie tickets, dinners, and trips can all be over the line for those employees.

A person could have an illegal gratuity that is not necessarily offered as a bribe, but frequently they are coupled together. For more information, contact a knowledgeable lawyer who has a significant understanding of Maryland federal bribery charges.

Differences Between a Gift and a Bribe

There are many differences between a gift and a bribe and it is determined as to the intent of the gratuity. For example, if a business owner gives a gift to a government official who has no power over anything that can impact the business owner’s business, it will likely not be considered a bribe because the business owner’s goal is not to influence a public decision. Knowing intent is crucial to understanding Maryland federal bribery charges.

However, if a business owner offers a gift to a public official who could give them a business contract, then it will be considered a bribe. Sometimes, depending on the agency or the government official, any gift can be viewed as unethical, so there needs to be caution there. Not only should a person make sure the gift is not illegal, but also that it is not unethical.

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