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Is gift-giving bribery?

You always liked your local government officials. You decided you wanted to try your hand at politics, too, so you applied for a position. When you arrived, you brought a donation for a charity the hiring manager loves while discussing how much you'd love the position.

That act might have seemed innocent enough to you, and you may have intended it to be kind. Unfortunately, giving a gift with the intent to make someone look at you more favorably and to influence his or her decisions could be construed as bribery.

What is bribery?

Bribery is when a person offers or accepts an item of value in exchange for influencing another party. For example, if you offer money to your local governor to influence your state senator, that is considered to be a bribe. A bribe doesn't have to be monetary. It can also be gifts like homes or other valuable property or assets.

Is giving a person a gift a bribe?

Not all gifts are bribes. A bribe is only a bribe if it is used to gain influence over someone in a governmental or employed position. If the gift is intended to sway a person's actions to help you in some way, it may be considered to be a bribe, but it does depend on the specific circumstances. For instance, if giving the gift is sure to make a person hire you for a position in the local government office, then the gift is typically considered to be a bribe.

If you're charged with bribery, you can fight that charge. The prosecution must prove that you intended to use the gift as a bribe, which could be difficult. Your attorney can help you protect yourself while you're facing prosecution.

Source: FindLaw, "Bribery," accessed June 09, 2017

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