In Texas, the criminal offense of Bribery prohibits both the offering and receiving of money or any other benefit in exchange for a political vote, judicial decision or other official decision.
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Learn more about the Bribery offense below.
What is the current Texas law about Bribery?
The current Texas law defines the offense of Bribery in Penal Code Section §36.02 as follows:
(a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly offers, confers, or agrees to confer on another, or solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept from another:
(1) any benefit as consideration for the recipient’s decision, opinion, recommendation, vote, or other exercise of discretion as a public servant, party official, or voter;
(2) any benefit as consideration for the recipient’s decision, vote, recommendation, or other exercise of official discretion in a judicial or administrative proceeding;
(3) any benefit as consideration for a violation of a duty imposed by law on a public servant or party official; or
(4) any benefit that is a political contribution as defined by Title 15, Election Code, or that is an expenditure made and reported in accordance with Chapter 305, Government Code, if the benefit was offered, conferred, solicited, accepted, or agreed to pursuant to an express agreement to take or withhold a specific exercise of official discretion if such exercise of official discretion would not have been taken or withheld but for the benefit; notwithstanding any rule of evidence or jury instruction allowing factual inferences in the absence of certain evidence, direct evidence of the express agreement shall be required in any prosecution under this subdivision.
Interestingly, it is not a defense (and therefore still a crime) if the benefit was offered or received after the decision was made and even after the person is no longer a public official. Political contributions (as defined by Title 15, Election Code, or an expenditure made and reported in accordance with Chapter 305, Government Code) are not considered bribes, however, if they comply with the law in the Election Code and Government Code.
How can I be charged with Bribery?
You can be charged with Bribery if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 36.02(a)(1), 36.02(a)(2), 36.02(a)(3), 36.02(a)(4) or 36.02(a)(5) as described in the section above have been met.
What is the punishment for Bribery?
If you are convicted of Bribery in Texas, the offense is punished as a second degree Felony, punishable by prison time of two to twenty years and a fine up to $10,000. Learn more about the difference between felonies and misdemeanors here
^1. Texas Penal Code §36.02^2. Texas Penal Code §36.02(c)
(c) It is no defense to prosecution under this section that the benefit is not offered or conferred or that the benefit is not solicited or accepted until after:
(1) the decision, opinion, recommendation, vote, or other exercise of discretion has occurred; or
(2) the public servant ceases to be a public servant.
^3. Texas Penal Code §36.02(d)^4. Texas Penal Code §36.02(e)