The law is designed to protect the sanctity of the judicial process. One of the most important tenets of the law, then, is to keep people from unduly influencing the people who will decide on the outcome of cases. In New York, as in the rest of the country, it’s illegal to bribe judges or jurors in a court proceeding. Some of the most important cases in the history of the court have come on bribery charges, with the bribing citizens and the bribe-taking judges both ending up on trial for the crime. Those who have been charged with briber of judges or jurors need good defense lawyers to wade through the difficult issues at play.
The elements of the crime
To prove that you are guilty of bribery of judges or jurors, the prosecution will have to prove a number of different elements. For one, the prosecution must prove that you’ve given a bribe to a juror or judge. Importantly, the prosecution must prove that you did so with “corrupt intent,” a state of mind element that requires the state to link you to nefarious conduct. In addition, the prosecution has to prove that you gave the bribe in an effort to influence the behavior or decision of the judge or jury member.
Does the judge or juror have to rule in my favor?
It’s important to understand that you can be charged and convicted whether a judge or juror acts on the bribe or not. In many cases, the judge or juror will be the person to report your bribe. The judge or juror acting on the bribe is not an element of the crime. The crime’s elements focus almost exclusively on your own conduct rather than focusing attention on what happens after you commit the bribe.
Bribery in any case
Bribery of judges or jurors does not have to be in your own case. You can be charged and convicted for seeking to intervene in any case, whether you have a direct interest or not. In most cases where people are charged, they will either have a direct interest in the case or they will be acting on behalf of a friend or family member. Even if the bribe is in one’s own financial interests, the state can still charge the crime and get a conviction. It’s a wide statute that allows for prosecution of any person who seeks to place undue influence on the process.
Defending against bribery charges
There are many ways that criminal defense lawyers help to defend against claims of bribery. It may be possible to take these cases to trial, arguing either that a bribe didn’t place or that there was no corrupt intent behind the bribe. In other cases, it may make sense to come up with a plea agreement that best serves the interests of the accused. Good lawyers take each case individually and follow the client’s lead in either going forward with a trial or seeking the best deal through negotiations with the state.
Bribery of judges or jurors is a felony that can land a person in prison for many years. Prosecutors routinely take these charges seriously because they erode the judicial process. People who have been accused should seek criminal defense counsel as soon as possible. The earlier you have legal assistance, the easier it will be to come up with a sophisticated plan to defend against the charges.