Is Bribery a Felony in Florida? - Aaron Delgado & Associates

Is Bribery a Felony in Florida?

by Aaron Delgado
05/11/22 (Updated: 05/11/22)

A criminal investigation is always serious, and criminal charges can be severe. If you have been accused of bribery, regardless of whether you are the one giving or receiving the bribe, the charges are always serious. It is important for you to reach out to a criminal defense attorney who can get ahead of the case, control the narrative, and make sure your rights are protected.

What do you need to know to defend yourself against these accusations? Furthermore, is bribery a felony in the state of Florida? Take a look at some helpful information below, and contact a criminal defense attorney who can formulate a defense on your behalf.

Bribery Is a Felony Offense in Florida

First, it is important to know that bribery is a felony offense in Florida. If you are convicted of bribery, you have been found guilty of a second-degree felony. This is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and 15 years of probation. This can also be punished via a fine of up to $10,000.

Importantly, there is a minimum sentence for bribery in Florida. Unless the judge believes there are grounds for a downward departure at sentencing, someone who is convicted of bribery must be sentenced to a minimum of 21 months in prison. Of course, the judge also has the discretion to send someone up to 15 years in prison.

Clearly, the penalties for bribery are serious. What else do you need to know about bribery, and how can you defend yourself against these charges?

When Does Bribery Take Place?

It is important to take a look at the definition of bribery. According to laws in the state of Florida, bribery takes place if there is an offer, promise, or agreement to exchange money, goods, or services in an effort to influence the performance of a public official. A few examples of public officials and bribery include:

  • Police Officers: Someone may attempt to bribe a police officer to get out of a speeding ticket. If this is proven in a court of law, then someone can be found guilty of bribing a police officer. This is a felony in Florida.
  • Peace Officers: There are also situations where someone may try to bribe a peace officer. This might take place in an effort to get into a restricted area, or this might be done in an effort to avoid more serious charges. This is also a felony in Florida.
  • Judges: Judges are also public officials. If someone tries to bribe a judge to influence the outcome of a case, they are guilty of bribery.
  • Jurors: If someone is serving on a jury, they are considered a public official. If someone tries to bribe a juror to issue a specific product, they are guilty of bribery.
  • Sports Officials: Many people do not realize that sports officials are public officials as well. For example, someone may try to bribe a referee at a basketball game or a football game. They may want the official to shift the outcome of a case in a certain direction. This is particularly common if someone has money riding on the game, and it represents bribery.

It is critical to note that bribery can take place regardless of whether someone is giving or receiving a bribe. If a bribe happens, the person who gives the money and the person who receives it are both guilty of the same crime. Even though they might be sentenced to slightly different terms, both of them have committed a felony.

How Do You Defend Yourself Against These Charges?

If you have been accused of bribery, how can you defend yourself against these charges? There are a few possible defenses, but the burden of proof is on the prosecution. The prosecution has to show that there was a quid pro quo in this case. Essentially, the prosecution has to prove that one person explicitly stated that they would behave in a certain way if they received money from someone else.

Even though the prosecutor may insinuate that someone may behave in a certain way in exchange for a certain amount of money, this is not enough. This is considered a generalized expectation of some future action. It is not enough to convict someone of bribery. There has to be hard evidence that the public official agreed to take something in exchange for another action. If there is no agreement, there cannot be a conviction.

What Factors Influence the Sentencing of a Bribery Conviction?

If convicted of bribery, there are a number of factors that will influence the sentence. They include:

  • The Severity of the Crime: The judge will take into account the severity of the crime. For example, if someone bribes a police officer to try to get out of a speeding ticket, this may not necessarily be the same as someone bribing a judge during a murder trial.
  • Taking Responsibility: If the defendant takes responsibility for the crime by pleading guilty, the judge may decide to issue a lighter sentence. Even though this is not always the case, it is something that the judge will take into account.
  • Prior Criminal Record: The judge will also take into account the presence or absence of a prior criminal record. If the person has a clean criminal record, he or she may receive a lighter sentence when compared to someone with a long criminal history.

There are situations where a defense attorney might be able to strike a plea agreement with the prosecutor. Typically, this is done in exchange for certain pieces of information or a guilty plea. The prosecutor may decide to recommend a lighter sentence during the sentencing phase, and this may help someone reduce his or her jail time. This is handled on a case-by-case basis, and it is something that needs to be discussed with a defense attorney.

If you are looking for a criminal defense lawyer for bribery charges, we can assist you.

Contact Aaron Delgado and Associates For Help With Bribery Cases in Florida

Regardless of whether you have been charged with giving or receiving a bribe, the charges are always severe. The penalties can be catastrophic, and it is important for you to put forth the best possible defense.

We are Aaron Delgado & Associates, and we are experienced criminal defense attorneys. We can review the circumstances of your case and help you form a strong defense. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to get the case dismissed entirely. Contact us today for a case consultation, and let us protect your rights.

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