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California Penal Code 68 PC - Bribery By An Executive Officer

CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 68 PC – BRIBERY BY AN EXECUTIVE OFFICER CALIFORNIA 

Los Angeles Criminal Defense LawyerPenal Code Section 68 of California law addresses the offense of requesting or accepting bribes by government officials to influence their decisions. This statute applies to government employees at the state, federal, and local levels. Offering bribes is punishable under Penal Code Sections 67 and 67.5.

Section 68 covers both executive officers, who have discretion in decision-making (e.g., police officers), and ministerial officers, who have no discretion (e.g., court clerks). Individuals such as police officers, prosecutors, building inspectors, DMV clerks, and any other government employees who offer their influence in exchange for money or other favors can be prosecuted under this provision.

Section 68 PC: (a) Every executive or ministerial officer, employee, or appointee of the State of California, a county or city therein, or a political subdivision thereof, who asks, receives, or agrees to receive, any bribe, upon any agreement or understanding that his or her vote, opinion, or action upon any matter then pending, or that may be brought before him or her in his or her official capacity, shall be influenced thereby, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years and, in cases in which no bribe has been actually received, by a restitution fine of not less than two thousand dollars ($2,000) or not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or, in cases in which a bribe was actually received, by a restitution fine of at least the actual amount of the bribe received or two thousand dollars ($2,000), whichever is greater, or any larger amount of not more than double the amount of any bribe received or ten thousand dollars ($10,000), whichever is greater, and, in addition thereto, forfeits his or her office, employment, or appointment, and is forever disqualified from holding any office, employment, or appointment, in this state.

(b) In imposing a restitution fine pursuant to this section, the court shall consider the defendant’s ability to pay the fine.

Source: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=68.

ELEMENTS

To obtain a conviction under this code section, a prosecutor must establish the following elements:

  • The defendant held a position as an executive officer, ministerial officer, or public employee within the State of California.
  • The defendant either requested, took, or agreed to take a bribe.
  • At the time of requesting, taking, or agreeing to take the bribe, the defendant represented that it would unlawfully influence their official act, decision, vote, or opinion.
  • The defendant acted with the corrupt intention to unlawfully influence their public or official duty.
See also  CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 641.3 PC - COMMERCIAL BRIBERY LAW

An “executive officer” refers to a government official who has discretion in carrying out their job duties, such as a district attorney or police officer. On the other hand, a “ministerial officer” follows directions from a superior and does not exercise their own discretion, such as a clerk or inspector. A “public employee” is someone employed by the State of California.

The term “bribe” encompasses either something of immediate or future value or advantage, or a promise to provide something of value or advantage in the present or future.

Prosecutors are not obligated to demonstrate that the government employee overtly expressed their intention to accept a bribe. The offense can be established by considering all the circumstances comprehensively. A jury will be tasked with examining all words, actions, and other behaviors related to the bribery accusation.

EXAMPLE

John is a police officer working for the state of California. He has been assigned to investigate a high-profile criminal case involving a prominent businessman named Mark. Mark is facing serious charges, and there is substantial evidence against him.

However, John sees this as an opportunity for personal gain. He approaches Mark and offers to manipulate the evidence and influence the outcome of the case in exchange for a bribe. John assures Mark that he has the power to control the investigation and can ensure a favorable outcome.

Unbeknownst to John, Mark is cooperating with the authorities in a separate investigation, and he immediately reports the bribery attempt. The authorities initiate a sting operation to gather evidence against John.

During the operation, undercover agents record conversations between John and Mark, capturing John’s explicit demands for the bribe and discussing how he will use his position as an executive officer to manipulate the case.

Based on the evidence presented, John is charged with Penal Code 68 PC – Bribery by an Executive Officer in California. Despite his denials, the prosecution successfully proves that John, being an executive officer as a police officer, requested and agreed to take a bribe with the intention of unlawfully influencing his official duties.

Ultimately, John is convicted under Penal Code 68 PC and faces a prison sentence of 2, 3, or 4 years, along with other penalties such as fines, a lifetime ban from holding public office, and a lifetime ban on owning firearms.

PENALTIES, PUNISHMENT, AND SENTENCING

Under Section 68, bribery is considered a felony regardless of the amount involved. Offenders may face a prison term of 2, 3, or 4 years, and probation is only possible in exceptional cases where the court deems it just. If granted probation, a local jail sentence of up to 1 year may also be imposed.

See also  CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 67 PC – BRIBERY OF EXECUTIVE OFFICER 

Additionally, a restitution fine ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 may be imposed. If the bribe received exceeds this amount, the restitution fine can be double the amount of the bribe or $10,000, whichever is greater.

Individuals convicted under this section will also be banned for life from holding public office and owning a firearm. It’s important to note that this offense cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor even after completing probation.

Legal counsel should prepare a comprehensive report emphasizing the positive aspects of the defendant’s life and requesting an understanding approach from the court to mitigate the defendant’s sentence.

DEFENSES

  • No “Corrupt Intent”: The prosecution may fail to establish that the government official had a corrupt intent. The relationship between the parties involved should be analyzed to determine their history, which may undermine the prosecution’s allegation of exchanging money or favors to influence an official act.
  • Challenge the Involvement of an Official Act: The state’s case may lack sufficient evidence that the offering was designed to influence the employee’s official act or decision. For example, the parties may have a personal relationship that undermines the prosecution’s assertion of bribery.
  • Entrapment: Often, bribery investigations are based on “sting operations” by undercover law enforcement agents. If the agent’s actions would cause a normally law-abiding person to commit the crime, then entrapment has occurred.
  • No Executive/Ministerial Officer or Public Employee: If the accused can show they were not working in any of these roles, they can establish that they are not guilty under this code section. Nevertheless, the defendant may still face charges under another bribery statute.
See also  CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 641.3 PC - COMMERCIAL BRIBERY LAW

IMMIGRATION CONSEQUENCES

California law designates certain felonies, such as bribery offenses, as potential “aggravated felonies” based on the specific circumstances of the case.

For non-citizen defendants found guilty of committing such crimes, the potential immigration consequences can include deportation or being marked as inadmissible. Therefore, if the facts of the case establish that the bribery offense committed qualifies as an aggravated felony, it can lead to adverse outcomes in terms of immigration status and eligibility.

It is crucial for non-citizen defendants to be aware of the immigration implications of their criminal charges and to seek legal advice from experienced attorneys to understand and address these complex issues effectively. If you or someone you know is charged with this crime, it is strongly advisable that you also consult with an immigration lawyer. If you do not have or know of an immigration lawyer, the Tabibnia Law Firm can refer you to one.

CAN A DEFENDANT GET A CONVICTION EXPUNGED?

Bribery convictions are only eligible for expungement if the individual received probation instead of a prison sentence and successfully completed the probation. Expungement is not an option for offenses that led to imprisonment.

RELATED CRIMES

  • Bribing an executive officer – PC 67
  • Bribery by and of legislators – PC 85 and 86
  • Bribery by and of witnesses – PC 137 and 138

SPEAK WITH CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER FROM TABIBNIA LAW FIRM

If you or a loved one is facing bribery charges or being investigated for such offenses, it is essential to seek the guidance of a highly skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. Cyrus Tabibnia, a well-respected Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, has over 19 years of experience and is known for his strong defense representation in bribery cases.

For more information about bribery charges under Penal Code 68 PC and to arrange a free consultation, please contact Cyrus Tabibnia at the Tabibnia Law Firm. You can reach him at 866-713-2159.

Sources:

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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