Elements Of Offense

Bribery is defined as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of something of value for the purpose of influencing the action of an official in the discharge of his/her public or legal duties.  Bribery is a crime which directly affects the state at large through its officers and representatives.[i] The offer or promise of a gift in an attempt to bribe is equal to a gift actually made for the corrupt purpose.[ii] However, there are several elements that must be proved in order establish the crime of bribery.

Intent is one of the elements that must be established to prove the crime of bribery.[iii] Corrupt intent is the intent to receive a specific benefit in return for the payment.[iv] The intent to use the opportunity to perform a public duty for acquiring an unlawful personal benefit or advantage by the person who receives the bribe amounts to a corrupt intent.[v]

Some statutes make attempted bribery a crime and so long as a bribe is offered or promised with the requisite intent to influence any official act, then it is presumed that the crime is committed.[vi] The guilt of a bribe taker depends solely upon his/her own corrupt intention and the defendant cannot escape conviction upon the ground that the bribe giver had no criminal intent.[vii]

Another element required to constitute the crime of bribery is that a bribe must involve something of value that is used to influence the action or nonaction of the recipient.  However, the bribe must not be necessarily in the form of money.  It is sufficient if the receiver gets anything of value to himself/herself from the bribe.

Therefore, in order to constitute a solicitation of a bribe the thing solicited must be either valuable or beneficial.  It need not be property or money but can be some act.[viii] Things that constitute value in the context of bribery include sexual favors, appointments to public jobs, loans, checks, and promissory notes.

Similarly, a person commits bribery if he/she offers or confers any benefit upon a public servant or peace officer to influence that public servant or peace officer to violate his/her public duty, or oath of office and influencing such officer’s vote, opinion, judgment, exercise of discretion, or other action or inaction in his/her official capacity.[ix]

[i] People v. Patillo, 386 Ill. 566 (Ill. 1944)

[ii] Ford v. Commonwealth, 177 Va. 889 (Va. 1941)

[iii] Scott v. State, 107 Ohio St. 475 (Ohio 1923)

[iv] United States v. Jennings, 160 F.3d 1006 (4th Cir. Md. 1998)

[v] Id

[vi] United States v. Johnson, 621 F.2d 1073 (10th Cir. Okla. 1980)

[vii] Sims v. State, 131 Ark. 185 (Ark. 1917)

[viii] Scott v. State, 107 Ohio St. 475 (Ohio 1923)

[ix] State v. Null, 247 Neb. 192 (Neb. 1995)


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