Accusations of public or political corruption are not uncommon in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Certain political groups and federal and state authorities appear to see such allegations as an easy way to demonstrate that they are on top of enforcing the laws without actually taking the time to determine those who are actually engaged in public corruption and those who may have made some understandable errors or suffered a temporary lapse in judgment.
Obviously, real incidents of corruption by individuals in a position of public trust can undermine that trust. Bribery, gratuity, and extortion are all acts that may have a negative impact on the public’s perception of the integrity of our system of government. As a result, federal authorities take allegations of corruption very seriously and tend to aggressively investigate and prosecute all alleged offenders. Problems occur when those accusations are based on little or few facts or fail to take into account common mistakes.
Nonetheless, anyone who is accused of these acts should understand that such accusations can be particularly destructive if not properly addressed by a Virginia federal public corruption lawyer. Let an experienced federal defense attorney fight for you.
When a federal corruption case is brought against an individual, it is often the result of an extensive investigation conducted by various law enforcement agencies that have a great deal of time and resources at their disposal. In some cases, the early intervention of a Virginia federal public corruption lawyer can help mitigate some or all legal consequences.
Because public corruption cases are often brought against people who are in the public eye, the assistance of an attorney can also help protect that individual’s professional and personal reputation. This goal can be accomplished through a variety of legal mechanisms that may delay, diminish, and/or prevent the dissemination of sensitive information.
Below is some basic information about three of the most common criminal allegations involving public corruption in Virginia: bribery, gratuity, and extortion.
The federal law that defines bribery as a criminal offense is 18 U.S. Code Section 201. It prohibits the act of giving a public official something of value in exchange for a particular act. Importantly, the law criminalizes both bribing a public official. Federal case law has defined “public official” as anyone who is a position of public trust with official federal responsibilities. If one is convicted of such an offense, the potential penalties can include a fine up to three times the value of the item exchanged, $250,000, or whichever amount is greater. Potential prison terms can range up to 15 years.
Found in the same statutory section, criminal allegations of gratuity involve giving or receiving something of value to or by a public official. The main difference from bribery is that while bribery requires a quid pro quo type of relationship, gratuity does not. With gratuity accusations, it may be enough simply to give something of value (or accept something of value if you are a public official) if that thing is in given or accepted as compensation for the performance of an official act or the promise of the performance of an official act. The fundamental difference between the two is prosecutors must prove the intent to perform specific acts for compensation in bribery. This, however, is not required to establish a gratuity charge or allegation. The penalties for a violation of gratuity law include a fine of up to $250,000 and two years in prison.
The charge of extortion is defined by 18 U.S. Code Section 1951, more commonly known as the “Hobbs Act.” It is generally understood to be the act of taking something from another person through alleged force or other threats. The statute defines “extortion” as “obtaining property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.” The penalties for those convicted can be particularly severe as the statute includes the potential for fines of up to $250,000 and up to 20 years in prison. Therefore, it is imperative for defendants to consult with a federal public corruption lawyer in Virginia.
There is a lot to be done when an individual undergoes any sort of public corruption investigation: statements to be issued, defense strategies to develop, warrants to review, and negotiations to be administrated. A Virginia federal public corruption lawyer can oversee many aspects of the investigation and litigation process so that public officials are free to manage the many other responsibilities that come with holding public office. In a time when public attention may seem negative and overwhelming, an experienced defense attorney can help elected or appointed officials present a composed and professional response to federal charges.
A Virginia federal public corruption attorney can oversee many aspects of the investigation and litigation process so that public officials are free to manage the many other responsibilities that come with holding public office. In a time when public attention may seem negative and overwhelming, an experienced defense attorney can help elected or appointed officials present a composed and professional response to federal charges.