Bribery is an intent-based crime. A person can give money, goods, or services to members of the government without penalty. The only time a person will run as an outlaw, is if he or she has some ulterior motive at the time the person is planning to give the thing of value to the official.
For example, a person can invite a friend with a position in congress on vacation with his or her family and pick up the bill. That is not bribery unless the person has the intent when executing this plan to utilize quid pro quo in exchange for the vacation that he or she is giving to this friend who happens to be in United States Congress.
Along with intent, there are a number of other elements of a Virginia federal bribery charge. As such, it is important to contact an experienced bribery attorney to craft the strongest defense based on the facts and circumstances of the case.
An illegal gratuity is the same kind of thing as bribery. It is a tip or a payment, usually monetary, in exchange for something of benefit that is inappropriate under the circumstances of the relationship between the giver and the taker.
A gift is something a person has given without expectation of a quid pro quo. If a person gives somebody a gift, the nature of that is that the individual does not have an expectation that something positive is going to happen as a result of the gift. This is because it is from the goodness of their heart. A gift is something that does not require any payback, any compensation by bid, any money, or anything.
A bribe is something of value exchanged with the anticipation that the value will be repaid in some official government action. Sometimes, there could be no distinction when a person might be unaware of the difference and accidentally try to bribe someone. However, a person cannot accidentally try to bribe someone.
The distinction between a gift and a bribe is almost always in the eyes of the beholder. The two parties involved in the exchange of something of value or aware of the intended consequences of that exchange might be questioned by people looking from afar, especially if something is given to another person of power.
If the giver of the bribe is giving to someone in such a way that the person is not made aware or refuses to acknowledge the quid pro quo that is being requested by the giver, then it is possible that the recipient might avoid charges. Similarly, if the government can prove that something of value changed hands but no quid pro quo followed through, the recipient can be found not guilty.
When distinguishing between the two elements, people should be careful to avoid all appearances of impropriety when dealing with government agencies or government officials. The simple appearance of impropriety may get the attention of the wrong US attorney or prosecuting attorney. This can lead the individual to become under investigation for malicious or devious intent when there was no presence of the sort.
Any government official, even in the county or municipal government, who receives a bribe and does something about it can face Virginia federal or state charges of bribery.
Bribery is something that can be prosecuted at any level, federal or state, regardless of whether the official is in the federal government. The reason is that federal criminal laws can supersede state laws as long as there is some form of interstate commerce that is affected by the criminal conduct.
Someone would be hard pressed to find any financial transaction that does not in some way, shape, or form affect interstate commerce. The interstate commerce clause is used to incorporate state action and federal law. It can be anything, including the use of phone lines, which are monitored by the federal government. It can be the use of computers, which is monitored by the federal government. It can be the use of the United States mail, which is monitored by the United States Government. Anything and everything that utilizes interstate commerce can be used to trigger a federal charge.