Have you ever said to a police officer, “Please don’t give me a ticket. I’ll give you $20. I can’t afford another ticket!” You just committed bribery. This isn’t good for you. The officer can arrest and charge you, which is the worst outlook, or the officer can let it slide and hand you your ticket. But what if you said, “If you don’t pay me, I’ll burn down your house” to someone. Now you’re looking at extortion. They are very similar, but have a few differences.
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, bribery is “the receiving or offering any undue reward by or to any person whomsoever, whose ordinary profession or business relates to the administration of public justice, in order to influence his behavior, and to incline him to act contrary to his duty and the known rules of honesty and integrity.“ Bribery now includes the offense of giving a bribe to many other classes of officers. It applies both to the offeror and receiver, and includes voters, cabinet ministers, legislators, sheriffs, and other classes. A bribe can be money, good, property, preferment, privilege, emolument, object of value, advantage, or the promise or undertaking to induce or influence the action, vote, or influence of a person in an official or public capacity. Basically, if you have had a morally or ethically wrong scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours arrangement, you are in a bribery circle. Bribery has been an estimated $1 trillion spent in the world. If you are convicted of committing bribery, you will be facing 2nd Degree Felony charges. This carries 2-20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Extortion, on the other hand, is the criminal offense of obtaining money, property, or services from a person, entity, or institution through coercion. This is most common in organized crime, calling it “protection.” You don’t have to actually obtain any money or property to commit extortion. You just use a simple threat to commit violence and require payment to prevent future violence. It involves some verbal or written instillation of fear that something will happen to the victim if they don’t comply with your demands. Violence itself is not required. The threat alone to commit violence or other damaging action is enough. Extortion can be committed with or without the use of force and with or without the use of a weapon. Blackmail always includes extortion in that the threat involves revealing a potentially embarrassing, damaging, or incriminating piece of information about the victim and requires some form of payment to prevent the release of that information. Extortion crimes vary in punishment. On the low end, a Class C Misdemeanor, less than $50 being paid by the victim, has a $500 fine. At the high end, a 1st Degree Felony, over $200,000 being paid, has 5-99 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
The moral of the story: Don’t bribe someone or commit extortion. If you are accused of one of these crimes, you will need a very good criminal defense attorney. You’ll needThe Law Office of Brian Corrigan. Call them at 214-762-6302, and they will help you through your case.