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Virginia Federal Bribery Defense Strategies

The standard bribery case that most people think about is a “pay to play” situation. Even this can take various forms in its concept. There could be an elected public official who promised certain favors on a business or personal side to a friend who might have given gifts or political contributions to that politician.

Many times bribery cases involve situations where a contractor wants to secure a bid for a government contract and sweeten the pot by giving cash, trips, vehicles, or something like that to the person in charge of determining who is awarded the contracts. However, the charge is developed by the government. The Virgina federal bribery defense attorney must be able to react by producing evidence or information to rebut evidence that the gifts or money were exchanged for immoral or illegal purposes in order to defend the Virginia bribery charge.

People in government agencies might know former employees who are now contractors. They might decide to go out for a night out on the town and one of them picks up the tab. That might not be bribery; it is just friends getting together and has nothing to do with the procurement process. There can be innocent explanations for things that the government believes to be illegal.

Avoid Giving a Statement

The biggest mistake anyone can make in bribery cases is talking to the government. The vast majority of the intent-based elements of a bribery charge that prosecutors must prove are based on circumstantial evidence.

Any statements made to the government can and will be used against the individual who made those statements. Anyone who is being investigated in a bribery case would be well-suited to avoid speaking to the government.

The best and most important factor of a defense in Virginia federal bribery cases is to remain silent and contact a bribery lawyer.

Circumstantial Evidence

Because much of the evidence in bribery cases can be circumstantial in nature, the attorney will likely attempt to forge a defense for the bribery charge that redirects the government’s case in terms of intent. The attorney will try and cause reasonable doubt of whether or not the intent or thing exchanged was to influence government function.

For example, If there are other explanations or circumstantial evidence available to debunk the government’s theory that it was a pay-for-play situation, the attorney uses that evidence.

Constitutional Issues

The vast majority of the government’s evidence is obtained through the use of search warrants, wiretaps, or things that intrude to someone’s right to privacy. The Fourth Amendment protects them from unreasonable searched and seizures.

There are exceptions to that and the most notable among them is the government getting a search warrant for these things. Even when the government obtains search warrants, the defense attorney looks at the basis for those search warrants and determines whether they were found in actual fact or mere speculation. If anything is suspect, they can use that as a constitutional defense against the legitimacy of the bribery charges.

There are different ways that search warrants and wiretaps can be challenged. The defense attorney explores all of those when trying to attack the government’s evidence and the inadmissibility of that evidence.

Meeting With An Attorney

For the initial consultation with the attorney, clients should bring everything they have that is associated with the contract awarded or the favors that were supposedly given. They should include anything that verifies the exchange of value between themselves and the public official. This will best help the lawyer craft a Virginia federal bribery defense strategy.

The most important aspect of an early consultation with an attorney is that the attorney can advise the client to not speak to law enforcement officers in bribery cases. If the client says anything that confirms what is found during the investigation, the prosecutor’s proving their case in trial becomes much easier. The best advice that any attorney can give to a client who is a target of a bribery investigation is to be quiet.

The most important element in bribery cases is the intent of the parties. A defense strategy for a Virginia federal bribery charge is to debunk the government’s theory that the intent was to garner some favor from the government.

Attorney-Client Privilege

The attorney-client privilege is sacrosanct. Anything that someone tells their attorney is protected by the attorney-client privilege. The only exceptions to that are if someone informs their attorney that they plan to commit a future crime. Other than that, an individual’s attorney is bound by what their client tells them. If the individual did, in fact, commit a bribery and tells the attorney that, the attorney is prohibited from sharing that information with anybody else.

There is no difference in the attorney-client privilege in federal cases and general bribery cases. An attorney-client privilege is the most unconditional thing in the practice of criminal defense law and any practice of law.

Challenging Aspects of a Defense

When beginning a federal bribery case, there is often an indictment, an initial appearance, and possible preliminary hearings depending on the way the person is arrested. At that point, the discovery schedule, motions schedule, and trial date are set.

Usually, the government has a mountain of evidence that is tendered to the defense attorney. The attorney must quickly and efficiently go through that evidence. Certain jurisdictions and federal practice like to proceed swiftly through criminal defense trials.

The Eastern District of Virginia has a “rocket docket” where they set cases for trial that might have thousands of pages of documents as evidence and discovery the government tenders to the defense. With a tight trial date, the defense attorney must find a way to review all of that evidence and identify any defense weaknesses in the government’s case. This can help that attorney build their own defense strategy for a federal bribery case in Virginia.

However, this is sometimes a challenge because the court does not provide much time to do that. That is why it is so important that a person hires an attorney who is supported by a law firm with enough resources to process the amount of discovery in bribery cases to give the individual the best fighting chance to win at trial.