If you’ve ever watched a TV show like The Sopranos or Daredevil, or a movie like American Hustle, that tells a story about crime and corruption, you probably have a picture in your head of some crime boss or a minion slipping a thick envelope or maybe a briefcase full of cash to a public official in exchange for a favor. Maybe it’s to get a zoning official to grease the wheels for a real estate development, or to get a customs official to look the other way when drugs are being smuggled through a port.
Bribery is a serious felony offense in Ohio. If you are convicted of making a bribe or being a public official who receives a bribe, the consequences can alter the rest of your life. The effects of a bribery conviction may include:
- A prison sentence
- Costly fines and court costs
- Being barred from future public office or employment
- A permanent criminal record as a felon
- Trouble finding or keeping a job
- Suspension, revocation, or denial of a professional license to work in law, financial services, medicine, nursing, teaching, pharmacy or another licensed profession
- If you’re not an American citizen, you may lose your immigration visa or green card, your citizenship application may be denied, and you may be deported
If you are facing bribery charges in southern Ohio, an experienced Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer can help. With the help of a good defense lawyer, you may be able to get your charge or your penalties reduced, or your case dismissed so that you can move past the stress and uncertainty of your criminal charge.
What is Bribery?
At its most basic, bribery is giving a public official something of value in exchange for some benefit, such as to influence a lawmaker’s vote or to avoid a penalty for an infraction. Ohio Rev. Code 2921.02 prohibits certain actions as bribery. Those include:
- Corrupting or improperly influencing a public servant or party official in the discharge of their duty
- Knowingly soliciting a public servant or party official to corrupt or improperly influence them in the discharge of their duty
- Knowingly soliciting a subpoenaed or sworn witness to corrupt or improperly influence their testimony
- Corrupting or improperly influencing a school district director, officer, or employee in the discharge of their duty
- Knowingly soliciting a school district director, officer, or employee to corrupt or improperly influence them in the discharge of their duty
The common thread in these actions is that bribery involves interfering with the person performing the duties or obligations of his or her position or office in way that is legal and ethical, and could be as simple as giving a teacher a gift, i.e., something of value, so that your child earns an “A” grade her or she didn’t earn.
Bribery doesn’t necessarily have to involve paying cash or providing tangible gifts. The statute includes a “valuable benefit” as something that can be used to corrupt or influence, so you could be charged with bribery for offering services to someone in order to corrupt or influence them, such as giving a City Councilman rides in your private plane if he votes in favor of an ordinance that benefits you.
Penalties for an Ohio Bribery Conviction
Bribery is a 3rd degree felony in Ohio. The possible punishment can include:
- A sentence of incarceration of 9 to 36 months
- A fine of up to $10,000
If you’re a public servant, party official, or school district director, officer, or employee convicted of bribery, you are disqualified from ever again holding any kind of public office, job, or position of trust.
How a Cincinnati Bribery Lawyer Can Help
A bribery charge is a serious legal matter that can negatively affect your career and your future, as well as result in months or years of incarceration and thousands of dollars in fines if you’re convicted. If you’ve been charged, you may feel overwhelmed and like your situation is hopeless. However, with the help of a skilled Ohio criminal defense attorney, you may have a chance at fighting the charge.
Bribery charges often are based on evidence from confidential informants who provided tips to investigators, or on sting operations involving undercover officers, or on wiretaps and searches. A good Ohio white collar defense lawyer can scrutinize the evidence in your case and the investigation process and look for flaws in procedure or holes in the prosecutor’s arguments that may benefit you.
It may be the situation that your constitutional rights were violated during the process of investigating or arresting you, and an experienced Cincinnati criminal defense attorney may be able to use that to prevent evidence obtained through illegal searches, seizures, wiretapping, or surveillance from being used against you, or keep statements out of court that you made to police after being improperly arrested.
Every case is based on a unique set of facts and circumstances, and there may be several different defense strategies that could work for you. We recommend calling a Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer today to discuss how to proceed with your charge.
Hiring a Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with, or are being investigated for a bribery crime in Cincinnati, Ohio, contact Luftman, Heck & Associates for a free consultation regarding your case. Attorney Brad Groene will review your legal situation and help you understand your options. You may be able to avoid formal charges altogether.