Commercial Bribery: Texas Penal Code §32.43

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Commercial Bribery law makes it a crime to offer to, confer, or agree to to confer to a fiduciary, or accept as a fiduciary, any that benefit will influence the fiduciary’s conduct with respect to the beneficiary.

In other words, if you’re in charge of making decisions about what to do with someone else’s money or investments (a fiduciary), it’s illegal to let someone pay you to influence your decisions about where to spend or invest that money. And on the other side of that transaction, it’s also illegal under this law to try to pay a fiduciary to influence those decisions.

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The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 32.43. The legislature did not update this law in 2023. In fact, this law has not been amended since 2019, when the legislature added limited liability companies and other business associations to subsection that specifies that the punishment for businesses under this law can rise to fine double the amount gained or caused by the business.

The Penal Code codifies the Texas Commercial Bribery law under Title 7 “Offenses Against Property,” Chapter 32 “Fraud.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Commercial Bribery below.

What is the current Texas law about Commercial Bribery?

The current Texas law prohibiting Commercial Bribery is defined in Texas Penal Code §32.43, and there are two ways for the state to charge you with it. The first one is found in subsection (b):[1]

(b) A person who is a fiduciary commits an offense if, without the consent of his beneficiary, he intentionally or knowingly solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept any benefit from another person on agreement or understanding that the benefit will influence the conduct of the fiduciary in relation to the affairs of his beneficiary.

The second category is an offense under subsection (c):

(c) A person commits an offense if he offers, confers, or agrees to confer any benefit the acceptance of which is an offense under Subsection (b).

How can I be charged with a Commercial Bribery offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Commercial Bribery in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 32.43(b) or (c), as described in the section above, have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Commercial Bribery in Texas?

Commercial Bribery offenses have a three-year limitations period.[2]

What is the penalty for a Texas Commercial Bribery offense?

A conviction for Commercial Bribery in Texas is punished as a State Jail Felony,[3] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and state prison time of up to two years. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors here.

There is a special provision related to fines for Commercial Bribery convictions, however. Texas Penal Code Section 32.43(e) allows for the possibility of a much higher fine:

(e) In lieu of a fine that is authorized by Subsection (d), and in addition to the imprisonment that is authorized by that subsection, if the court finds that an individual who is a fiduciary gained a benefit through the commission of an offense under Subsection (b), the court may sentence the individual to pay a fine in an amount fixed by the court, not to exceed double the value of the benefit gained. This subsection does not affect the application of Section 12.51(c) to an offense under this section committed by a corporation, an association, a limited liability company, or another business entity, as defined by Section 7.21.

Can you get probation for Commercial Bribery in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for Commercial Bribery, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[4]

Note, however, that no matter the offense, neither judges nor juries may recommend community supervision for any suspended sentence of over 10 years.[5] Also, judges may not grant community supervision after a conviction if (1) the defendant used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of the felony or immediate flight thereafter and (2) the defendant used or exhibited the deadly weapon himself or was a party to the offense and knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited.[6]

What level of crime is Commercial Bribery in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies the punishment for Commercial Bribery as a state jail felony, depending on the circumstances.

Learn more about the penalty range for this offense in the section above.

^1. Texas Penal Code §32.43^2. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.01(9)^3. Texas Penal Code §32.43(d)^4. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^5. Art. 42A.053(c), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure^6. Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure

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