Bribery is a serious crime in the United States. Some contractors believe that they can jumpstart their careers in the construction industry by bribing public officials or compensating friends in leadership roles to help them procure lucrative contracts, speed up inspections, and acquire payments more quickly, but the legal consequences for committing bribery are steep and can ruin a contractor’s career.
In the first section of this three-part series, the Jacksonville construction lawyers at Cotney Construction Law will discuss what bribery is. Later, in parts two and three, we will discuss some statistics on bribery, who is responsible when a bribe occurs, and discuss a recent case in which a contractor was indicted for bribing a building official.
What is Bribery?
According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, bribery is the “corrupt solicitation, acceptance, or transfer of value in exchange for official action.” Generally, to qualify as bribery, the contractor must be soliciting, offering, or giving money or an item of value to a person who holds a duty to the public or the law. If a contractor tries to increase their chances of procuring government contracts by paying a public official “under the table” for favoritism or to guarantee that a bid is awarded, they are committing an act of bribery. Fortunately, if you suspect that a competing contractor is bribing building officials, a Jacksonville contractor lawyer can perform bid protests through the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and local ordinances.
What is the Penalty for Bribery?
Bribery of a public official is a federal crime. In a report published by the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), three-quarters of people indicted for bribery were sentenced to imprisonment. This sentencing typically lasts one year or more. In 2017, 216 bribery offenders were sentenced to an average of 26 months. Other types of bribery, such as bank bribery, carry significantly more severe penalties.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.