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Bribery in Florida: What You Need To Know

Most people in Florida understand that bribery is a crime. However, most Floridians don’t know the particulars of Florida and federal laws that make bribery illegal. The following is a discussion of bribery in Florida and what you need to know if you find yourself facing bribery charges in Florida court.


In general, bribery is the practice of obtaining special favors or treatment by a position in government using money or other valuable consideration. The practice is illegal due to its effect of eroding public trust in government institutions and because it gives those willing and able to pay for favors an unfair advantage in the eyes of the state.


On the Federal level, there are two statutes prohibiting bribery:

  • Bribery of a federal official, and
  • Bribery in connection with programs receiving federal funds.

Bribery of a federal official is giving, offering, or receiving anything of value to a public official or someone who has been chosen to be a public official with the intent to influence an official act. The statute makes it illegal to both offer a bribe and to receive one.

There are four elements to this crime

  • The defendant was a public official, or the individual to whom the bribe was offered was a public official or had been selected to be one,
  • The defendant either corruptly solicited, demanded, accepted, or agreed to accept a bribe, or the defendant corruptly gave, offered, or promised anything of value,
  • The intent was to influence a public act, and
  • The thing of value offered, given, or promised was done so either directly or indirectly.

Meanwhile, the federal statute barring bribery in connection with programs receiving federal funds prohibits attempting or succeeding at bribing a federal agent or organization to obtain federally funded business. It also prohibits soliciting bribes for that purpose as well.

The elements are similar to the federal statute banning bribing officials, except for two differences:

  • The bribery was done to influence the rewarding of federal funds, and
  • The organization or agency involved must have accepted at least $10,000 over a one-year period.

Federal Penalty

The penalty for engaging in bribery on a federal level are serious indeed. Bribery of a public official can lead to a fine, up to 15 years in prison without parole, or both, and being banned from holding an office of honor, trust, or profit in the United States.

The penalty for being convicted of bribery in connection with a federally funded program may also lead to a stiff fine, up to ten years in prison without parole, or both.


There are three common defenses to federal bribery charges, namely

  • The defendant did not have sufficient intent to bribe or be bribed in exchange for influence,
  • There was no understanding between the one offering the bribe and the one receiving it that it was done in order to obtain special consideration, and
  • The defendant was entrapped into offering or accepting a bribe, which means that the defendant was induced to commit the crime of bribery.

Come back here next week for part II!


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