David L. McCormick

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How criminal law interprets bribery

| May 17, 2021 | Criminal Law

According to Minnesota law, bribery is the result of a person offering, giving or promising a benefit, directly or indirectly, to a second person in hopes of unfairly influencing the second person’s decision or actions.

By agreeing, the second person knowingly receives or requests that benefit or reward. They do so with the understanding the agreement will lead to an agreed-upon act.

When bribery is a crime

Bribery is a slippery slope, and a violation of criminal law may not always be apparent. Here are some criteria for categorizing bribery as a crime.

  • When the recipient is a public employee or official and said the offer influences the individual’s common responsibilities
  • If the recipient is witnessing or intends to witness before a court or hearing and planning to adjust their testimony based on the offer
  • Should the recipient give information in a prosecution with the offer being the grounds for such information
  • When bribery demonstrates a quid pro quo relationship

The solicitation of a bribe is a crime as well. The court views the request alone and the attempt to receive a gift as a crime.

Proving intent to alter the natural discharge of duties is critical to bribery. In some cases, it needs to be evident that both parties understood and agreed to the bribe.

Economists define bribery as an exchange that negatively impacts fair and reasonable economic growth as it promotes “rent seeking” behavior. Rent seeking refers to an illicit attempt to influence an open market to the advantage of an individual or company through a disproportionate distribution of wealth.