New York Bribery: An Overview
Bribery involves offering, giving, soliciting, or receiving something of value in order to influence an official action or decision. Bribery is illegal in New York under several statutes that prohibit both commercial bribery and bribery of public officials. This article provides an overview of bribery laws in New York, recent bribery cases, defenses, and the implications.
New York Bribery Laws
There are two main New York statutes that prohibit bribery:
- Article 180 of the New York Penal Law covers commercial bribery, which involves private citizens and businesses.
- Article 200 covers bribery of public officials. This is considered more serious with harsher penalties.
Commercial bribery laws in New York prohibit offering or receiving bribes in private business settings to influence behavior:
- Commercial bribing in the second degree (PL 180.00) – Class A misdemeanor
- Commercial bribing in the first degree (PL 180.03) – Class E felony
- Commercial bribe receiving in the second degree (PL 180.05) – Class A misdemeanor
- Commercial bribe receiving in the first degree (PL 180.08) – Class E felony
For example, it would be illegal for a supplier to bribe a purchasing agent at a company to choose their bid over competitors.
Bribery of Public Officials
Article 200 has several bribery and bribe receiving offenses. The severity depends on the value of the bribe and the type of action sought to be influenced:
- Bribery in the third degree (PL 200.00) – Class D felony
- Bribery in the second degree (PL 200.03) – Class C felony
- Bribery in the first degree (PL 200.04) – Class B felony
- Bribe receiving in the third degree (PL 200.10) – Class D felony
- Bribe receiving in the second degree (PL 200.11) – Class C felony
- Bribe receiving in the first degree (PL 200.12) – Class B felony
For example, bribing a police officer to get out of a traffic ticket would be third degree bribery. Bribing a public official to influence a major investigation would be first degree.
Other Bribery Crimes
Other New York bribery crimes include:
- Bribing or bribe receiving by labor officials (PL 180.15, 180.20)
- Sports bribery (PL 180.40, 180.45)
- Rent gouging (PL 180.55 – 180.57)
- Rewarding official misconduct (PL 200.20, 200.22)
- Bribe giving/receiving for public office (PL 200.45, 200.50)
Defenses to Bribery Charges
There are several potential defenses in New York bribery cases:
- Lack of corrupt intent – The prosecution must prove you intended to be influenced by the bribe. Evidence showing there was no “quid pro quo” or corrupt intent could defeat the charges.
- Entrapment – If you can show police induced you to commit bribery you otherwise wouldn’t have, this may be a defense.
- Duress – Doing something illegal under threat of harm could provide a defense.
- Statute of limitations – Felony bribery charges must be brought within 5 years in New York.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can evaluate the evidence and determine if any defenses apply in your case.
Avoiding Bribery Charges
The best way to avoid bribery accusations is to never offer or accept anything of value intended to influence official actions. But if you find yourself under investigation or arrested, immediately consult an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can negotiate with prosecutors, defend your rights, and seek dismissal or acquittal of any charges. With skilled legal representation, many bribery defendants can avoid convictions and minimize the impact on their lives and careers.
Bribery laws in New York prohibit offering, soliciting, or accepting bribes to influence behavior in both public and private sectors. Stiff legal penalties and career damage make fighting bribery allegations imperative. By understanding the law and working with an aggressive defense lawyer, those accused of bribery can often achieve favorable case outcomes. But avoiding questionable conduct in the first place remains the best way to steer clear of bribery charges.