When someone has been charged with a criminal offense, they are often encouraged to do whatever is needed to reduce or eliminate those charges, thus avoiding the effect they have on the defendant’s future. However, one thing that a criminal defendant should never do is attempt to bribe a judge or jurors in the case.
If you have been accused of violating CA Penal Code 92 – Bribery of Judges or Jurors, it is important that you speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, as this violation is charged as a felony.
What Is Bribery of Judges or Jurors?
CA Penal Code 92 prohibits bribing judges, juries, judicial officers, referees, arbitrators, or umpires. What this means is that a defendant cannot attempt to offer anything of value to individuals involved in deciding their fate for the purpose of influencing the decision. Likewise, section 93 of California’s Penal Code prohibits judges or juries from asking for or taking a bribe.
How Is Bribery Proven?
As explained by Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute, bribery is proven by showing that the recipient of the bribe directly altered their behavior as a result of receiving the gift. There must be evidence to show not only that the offender intended to influence the discharge of official duties. In order to constitute bribery, the judicial officer in question does not need to accept the offer.
Examples of CA Penal Code 92 Violations
Examples of how a person could be found guilty of violating CA Penal Code 92 include:
- A defendant on trial for murder approaches a juror in the case and offers them $1 million for them to vote not guilty on the charge. The juror accepts this offer, and it is considered a bribe.
- Two parties are attempting to resolve a legal matter through arbitration. During this process, one of the parties approaches the arbiter and offers to help put their child through college if they decide in favor of the party. The violation occurs with the offer of the gift, even if the arbiter declines.
- A businessman offers a judge a lifetime of free services through his company in order for the judge to “have his back” in future cases that come through the court. Even though these cases are not yet active, the intent to influence their outcome by the offering of services constitutes bribery.
The Consequences of Bribing a Judge or Jury
Bribing a judge or juror is a felony offense in California, punishable by up to four years in state prison and significant fines. It should be noted, however, that the judge has the authority to award felony probation instead of incarceration. Felony probation allows the defendant to serve all or part of their sentence outside of police custody, but with the supervision of a probation officer.
Possible Defenses Against the Charge
There are three common defenses to a CA Penal Code 92 violation, including no criminal intent, a coerced confession, or entrapment. Here is a look at each of these defenses.
No Criminal Intent
In order to convict a person of many types of crimes, including violations to CA Penal Code 92, the prosecution must show that there was criminal intent to influence the court’s decision. An attorney may argue that the defendant is not guilty of committing the crime as they were merely offering a gesture of kindness without any intent to alter the decision of the court.
California law prohibits law enforcement officers to use overbearing measures to cause a defendant to confess to a crime. If a defendant was unduly pressured to falsely confess to bribing a judge or juror, the confession can become inadmissible in court or a judge could opt to dismiss the case.
It is also illegal for a law enforcement officer or a judicial officer to lure someone into committing a crime. An example of entrapment in a bribery case could involve a police officer suggesting to a defendant that the judge would be open to entertaining an offer of $1 million to dismiss a criminal case. The defendant is then arrested and charged with violating CA Penal Code 92 when they make their offer.
Is It Possible to Get a Bribery Charge Expunged?
Expungement is the process of having a conviction erased from an offender’s criminal history. Defendants who are convicted of bribery and are sentenced to incarceration are not eligible for expungement of the charge. However, those who were ordered to serve probation and completed the terms of that probation are.
Why You Need a Lawyer to Assist With Your Defense on Bribery Charges
Bribery is a serious offense in California, and a felony charge can have negative impacts that extend far into the future as it will appear on a criminal background check and can potentially result in the defendant having difficulty obtaining employment, housing, or even being accepted into college. A criminal defense attorney will carefully investigate the details of the case against their client and begin preparing a strategy for defense.
It is often said that the best way to avoid the impact of a felony is to not be convicted of one. An experienced criminal defense attorney will generally look for reasons to have a case dismissed, including improper procedure, or a violation of the defendant’s rights during the criminal investigation. Coercing a confession is an example of improper and illegal procedures that can result in a case being dismissed.
Finally, if there is no way to beat the charge, an attorney can work with the prosecution in order to protect their client from the most severe consequences. A plea deal involves a defendant agreeing to plead guilty to a charge (either the original charge or a lesser one), in exchange for a lighter sentence.
We Can Help You With Your Case
IIf you’ve been charged with a violation of CA Penal Code 92, you don’t have to handle it on your own. Contact us today for a consultation. This will allow you to learn more about the services we can provide you with and how we may help your defense.