Bribery, Bribe Receiving, Commercial Bribing, and Commercial Bribe Receiving

Bribery accusations must be met with an experienced New York City bribery crime defense attorney. Most people have a pretty decent idea of bribery. They know it when they see it. While the classic examples of bribery are self-evident, what many people don't quite understand is that a person can be charged with bribery even when his conduct falls considerably short of the classic examples. For example, while most people know that it is illegal to bribe a public official, many people don't know that it is also illegal to "bribe" a non-public official in certain contexts.

In its most basic form, the act of bribery is defined by the New York legislature as any situation in which a person "confers, or offers or agrees to confer, any benefit upon a public servant upon an agreement or understanding that such public servant's vote, opinion, judgment, action, decision or exercise of discretion as a public servant will thereby be influenced."

As noted above, a person can also be guilty of bribery if he attempts to commit a commercial bribe. A commercial bribe is defined by the New York legislature as any situation in which a person "confers, or offers or agrees to confer, any benefit upon any employee, agent, or fiduciary without the consent of his or her employer or principal, with intent to influence the employee's conduct in relation to his or her employer's affairs."

The degree of Bribery for which a person can be convicted depends on whether there are also certain aggravating factors. For every single charge of Bribery there is a corresponding charge that criminalizes the receiving of a bribe.

There is an affirmative defense for Bribery which states that a person is not guilty of bribery if he can show, through a preponderance of the evidence, that he conferred or agreed to confer the benefit involved as a result of conduct by the public servant that constituted larceny committed by means of extortion, or an attempt to commit extortion, or coercion, or an attempt to commit coercion.

Below is a list of the common charges associated with both Bribery and Commercial Bribing, what the government needs to prove, and what the applicable sanctions are. All accusations of Bribery are serious. John Buza is an experienced New York criminal defense attorney and is a former Manhattan prosecutor. Do not hesitate to contact him for a free consultation if you, or a loved one, is accused of this crime.

  • Bribery in the First Degree

Bribery in the First Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 200.04. It is a class B felony. If a person with no prior felony convictions is convicted of a class B felony, the minimum period of incarceration is an indeterminate sentence of 1-3 years in prison and the maximum is 8 1/3 - 25 years. An indeterminate sentence is one in which the person is sentenced to a range and the department of corrections determines how much of that range the person must serve before he is eligible for release. If the person has been previously convicted of a prior felony within 10 years of the new conviction, excluding time spent in prison, the minimum period of incarceration is 4 1/2 - 9 years and the maximum is 12 1/2 - 25 years. In all circumstances, the person is forced to be on parole between 1 to 3 years after his release.

For the government to sustain a conviction for Bribery in the First Degree, the government must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. It must prove:

  1. the person conferred, or offered, or agreed to confer, a benefit upon a person who was actually a public servant at the time; and
  2. the person did so upon an agreement or understanding that the public servant's vote, opinion, judgment, action, decision or exercise of discretion as a public servant would thereby be influenced in the investigation, arrest, detention, prosecution, or incarceration of any person for the commission or alleged commission of any class A felony defined article 220 of the penal law or an attempt to commit any such class A felony.

Article 220 of the Penal Code consists of drug offenses. A class A felony as defined by article 220 is either Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First or Second Degree or Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First or Second Degree.

  • Bribe Receiving in the First Degree

Bribe Receiving in the First Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 200.12. It is a class B felony. If a person with no prior felony convictions is convicted of a class B felony, the minimum period of incarceration is an indeterminate sentence of 1-3 years in prison and the maximum is 8 1/3 - 25 years. An indeterminate sentence is one in which the person is sentenced to a range and the department of corrections determines how much of that range the person must serve before he is eligible for release. If the person has been previously convicted of a prior felony within 10 years of the new conviction, excluding time spent in prison, the minimum period of incarceration is 4 1/2 - 9 years and the maximum is 12 1/2 - 25 years. In all circumstances, the person is forced to be on parole between 1 to 3 years after his release.

For the government to sustain a conviction for Bribe Receiving in the First Degree, the government must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt. It must prove:

  1. the person is a public servant;
  2. the person solicited, accepted, or agreed to accept a benefit from another person; and
  3. the public servant did so upon an agreement or understanding that the public servant's vote, opinion, judgment, action, decision or exercise of discretion as a public servant would thereby be influenced in the investigation, arrest, detention, prosecution, or incarceration of any person for the commission or alleged commission of any class A felony defined article 220 of the penal law or an attempt to commit any such class A felony.

Article 220 of the Penal Code consists of drug offenses. A class A felony as defined by article 220 is either Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First or Second Degree or Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First or Second Degree.

  • Bribery in the Second Degree

Bribery in the Second Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 200.03. It is a class C felony. There is no minimum period of mandatory incarceration if a person with no prior felony convictions is convicted of a class C (non-violent and non-drug) felony, however, the maximum period of incarceration is an indeterminate sentence of 5 - 15 years. An indeterminate sentence is one in which the person is sentenced to a range and the department of corrections determines how much of that range the person must serve before he is eligible for release. If the person has been previously convicted of a prior felony within 10 years of the new conviction, excluding time spent in prison, the minimum period of incarceration is 3 - 6 years and the maximum is 7 1/2 - 15 years. There is no period of mandatory parole after the person is released from custody.

For the government to sustain a conviction for Bribery in the Second Degree, the government must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. It must prove:

  1. the person conferred, or offered, or agreed to confer, a benefit valued in excess of $10,000 upon a person who was actually a public servant at the time; and
  2. the person did so upon an agreement or understanding that the public servant's vote, opinion, judgment, action, decision or exercise of discretion as a public servant would thereby be influenced.
  • Bribe Receiving in the Second Degree

Bribe Receiving in the Second Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 200.11. It is a class C felony. There is no minimum period of mandatory incarceration if a person with no prior felony convictions is convicted of a class C (non-violent and non-drug) felony, however, the maximum period of incarceration is an indeterminate sentence of 5 - 15 years. An indeterminate sentence is one in which the person is sentenced to a range and the department of corrections determines how much of that range the person must serve before he is eligible for release. If the person has been previously convicted of a prior felony within 10 years of the new conviction, excluding time spent in prison, the minimum period of incarceration is 3 - 6 years and the maximum is 7 1/2 - 15 years. There is no period of mandatory parole after the person is released from custody.

For the government to sustain a conviction for Bribe Receiving in the Second Degree, the government must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt. It must prove:

  1. the person was a public servant;
  2. the person solicited, accepted or agreed to accept any benefit valued in excess of $10,000 form another person; and
  3. the public servant did so upon an agreement or understanding that the public servant's vote, opinion, judgment, action, decision or exercise of discretion as a public servant would thereby be influenced.
  • Bribery in the Third Degree

Bribery in the Third Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 200.00. It is a class D felony. There is no minimum period of mandatory incarceration if a person with no prior felony convictions is convicted of a class D (non-violent and non-drug) felony, however, the maximum period of incarceration is an indeterminate sentence of 2 1/3 - 7 years. An indeterminate sentence is one in which the person is sentenced to a range and the department of corrections determines how much of that range the person must serve before he is eligible for release. If the person has been previously convicted of a prior felony within 10 years of the new conviction, excluding time spent in prison, the minimum period of incarceration is 2 - 4 years and the maximum is 3 1/2 - 7 years. There is no period of mandatory parole after the person is released from custody.

For the government to sustain a conviction for Bribery in the Third Degree, the government must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. It must prove:

  1. the person conferred, or offered, or agreed to confer, a benefit upon a person who was actually a public servant at the time; and
  2. the person did so upon an agreement or understanding that the public servant's vote, opinion, judgment, action, decision or exercise of discretion as a public servant would thereby be influenced.
  • Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree

Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 200.10. It is a class D felony. There is no minimum period of mandatory incarceration if a person with no prior felony convictions is convicted of a class D (non-violent and non-drug) felony, however, the maximum period of incarceration is an indeterminate sentence of 2 1/3 - 7 years. An indeterminate sentence is one in which the person is sentenced to a range and the department of corrections determines how much of that range the person must serve before he is eligible for release. If the person has been previously convicted of a prior felony within 10 years of the new conviction, excluding time spent in prison, the minimum period of incarceration is 2 - 4 years and the maximum is 3 1/2 - 7 years. There is no period of mandatory parole after the person is released from custody.

For the government to sustain a conviction for Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree, the government must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt. It must prove:

  1. the person was a public servant;
  2. the person solicited, accepted or agreed to accept any benefit from another person; and
  3. the public servant did so upon an agreement or understanding that the public servant's vote, opinion, judgment, action, decision or exercise of discretion as a public servant would thereby be influenced.
  • Commercial Bribing in the First Degree

Commercial Bribing in the First Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 180.03. It is a class E felony. There is no minimum period of mandatory incarceration if a person with no prior felony convictions is convicted of a class E (non-violent and non-drug) felony, however, the maximum period of incarceration is an indeterminate sentence of 1 1/3 - 4 years. An indeterminate sentence is one in which the person is sentenced to a range and the department of corrections determines how much of that range the person must serve before he is eligible for release. If the person has been previously convicted of a prior felony within 10 years of the new conviction, excluding time spent in prison, the minimum period of incarceration is 1 1/2 - 3 years and the maximum is 2 - 4 years. There is no period of mandatory parole after the person is released from custody.

For the government to sustain a conviction for Commercial Bribing in the First Degree, the government must prove the following five elements beyond a reasonable doubt. It must prove:

  1. the person conferred, or offered, or agreed to confer, a benefit upon a person who was an employee, agent, or fiduciary of an employer or principal;
  2. the benefit exceeded $1,000;
  3. the person did so without the consent of the employer or principal;
  4. the person did so with the intent to influence the employee's conduct in relation to his employer's affairs; and
  5. the person's conduct caused economic harm to the employer or principal in an amount exceeding $250.
  • Commercial Bribe Receiving in the First Degree

Commercial Bribe Receiving in the First Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 180.08. It is a class E felony. There is no minimum period of mandatory incarceration if a person with no prior felony convictions is convicted of a class E (non-violent and non-drug) felony, however, the maximum period of incarceration is an indeterminate sentence of 1 1/3 - 4 years. An indeterminate sentence is one in which the person is sentenced to a range and the department of corrections determines how much of that range the person must serve before he is eligible for release. If the person has been previously convicted of a prior felony within 10 years of the new conviction, excluding time spent in prison, the minimum period of incarceration is 1 1/2 - 3 years and the maximum is 2 - 4 years. There is no period of mandatory parole after the person is released from custody.

For the government to sustain a conviction for Commercial Bribe Receiving in the First Degree, the government must prove the following six elements beyond a reasonable doubt. It must prove:

  1. the person was an employee, agent, or fiduciary;
  2. the person solicited, accepted, or agreed to accept a benefit from another person;
  3. the value of the benefit exceeded $1,000;
  4. the employee, agent, or fiduciary did so upon an agreement or understanding that such benefit would influence his conduct in relation to his employer's affairs;
  5. the person did so without the consent of his employer; and
  6. the person's conduct caused economic harm to the employer or principal in the amount of $250.
  • Commercial Bribing in the Second Degree

Commercial Bribing in the Second Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 180.00. It is a class A misdemeanor. A person convicted of a class A misdemeanor can be punished by up to 1 year in jail.

For the government to sustain a conviction for Commercial Bribing in the Second Degree, the government must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt. It must prove:

  1. the person conferred, or offered, or agreed to confer, a benefit upon a person who was an employee, agent, or fiduciary of an employer or principal;
  2. the person did so without the consent of the employer or principal; and
  3. the person did so with the intent to influence the employee's conduct in relation to his employer's affairs.
  • Commercial Bribe Receiving in the Second Degree

Commercial Bribe Receiving in the Second Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 180.05. It is a class A misdemeanor. A class person convicted of a class A misdemeanor can be sentenced to up to one year in jail.

For the government to sustain a conviction for Commercial Bribe Receiving in the Second Degree, the government must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt. It must prove:

  1. the person was an employee, agent, or fiduciary;
  2. the person solicited, accepted, or agreed to accept a benefit from another person;
  3. the employee, agent, or fiduciary did so upon an agreement or understanding that such benefit would influence his conduct in relation to his employer's affairs; and
  4. the person did so without the consent of his employer.

"Economic harm to the employer or principal" means actual economic loss suffered by the employer or principal which would not have been incurred in the absence of the corrupt arrangement."

All accusations of Bribery or Bribe Receiving are serious. John Buza is an experienced New York criminal defense attorney and is a former Manhattan prosecutor. Do not hesitate to contact him for a free consultation if you, or a loved one, is accused of this crime.