Los Angeles Bribery and Extortion Defense Lawyer
Most people think of embezzlement and fraud when they consider white-collar crimes. They would be correct in assuming these are some of the most common financially-motivated crimes. However, white-collar crimes also encompass bribery, extortion, and public corruption. These crimes, however, do not always involve a low-level employee of a business or government agency. Instead, these offenses often involve influential politicians, government employees, business professionals, athletes, celebrities, and other public figures.
Bribery, extortion, and corruption are serious accusations. If you are a public figure who has been named in the midst of a scandal, you need to protect yourself. You should hire a Los Angeles extortion defense lawyer immediately. You will need to vigorously defend yourself throughout the law enforcement investigation, and to the public.
We understand how intimidating this situation can be. Many bribery, extortion, and corruption accusations lead to federal charges, which can result in high fines and years of incarceration in state prison. To discuss defenses against these accusations and how to vigorously defend yourself in court, contact a federal crimes attorney from our firm right away. You can schedule a free and confidential case consultation through our online form, or by calling (310) 424-5816.
Extortion is a criminal offense in which an individual uses threats, coercion, or intimidation to obtain money, goods, or services. During extortion, the victim is not in immediate harm. However, the victim is willing to provide the money, goods, or services based on the fear of future harm. The threats may also be about exposing a person to the media or subjecting them to an internal investigation or criminal investigation in regard to some other matter. Extortion can be performed by or inflicted upon a politician or employee of the federal government. It can also include private citizens, as well. There are various types of extortion that our Los Angeles extortion defense lawyers have seen, including blackmail, ransom, and bribery.
Examples of extortion include:
- An employee of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requires undocumented immigrants to pay him money for him to refrain from moving forward with the deportation process.
- A photographer requires a celebrity to give him millions of dollars for him to not release nude photographs to the media.
- A group of interns in a political office forces a senator to purchase expensive items in exchange for the group not making public the senator’s acts of sexual harassment.
- Members of the mob threaten stockbrokers and other financial professionals with violence to force them to artificially alter the value of a certain stock, enabling the mob to make a greater profit.
Extortion can run the gamut regarding who it involves, the money or property wrongly demanded, and the leverage to do so. Because of this wide range of criminal conduct, there are many situations in which there are misunderstandings or false accusations. If you have been falsely accused of extortion, call a Los Angeles extortion defense lawyer immediately.
Bribery is giving, offering, receiving, or asking for anything of value in exchange for money or a favor from someone who is in a particular position or power. The difference between bribery and extortion is that bribery specifically requires a participant who works in government or politics, public service, business, or sports. There also may not be a clear threat or leverage that induces the other party to agree.
There is also commercial bribery, in which someone typically attempts to secure an advantage over business competitors. For example, an employee may accept or solicit money to use their position within a business to benefit the paying individual.
Examples of bribery include:
- A lobbyist offers to provide a senator with $1 million in exchange for the senator voting a certain way on an upcoming bill.
- An employee of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) solicits and accepts bribes from construction companies in exchange for ensuring those companies received HUD building contracts.
- A city employee offers to cancel a vendor’s debt to the city in exchange for a cash payment.
- A business professional offers to provide a former pro-athlete and current director on a non-profit’s board with cash payments for influencing an important board vote.
Like with extortion, bribery can take many forms. An individual can be victimized by bribery and forced into the illegal activity. Both parties can also be willing participants in the unlawful scheme. Because of this, any of the individuals who participate in the offense can face criminal charges. You could be under investigation for bribery when you are the victim who has been wrongly extorted. When you learn you are under investigation for bribery, the best thing to do is to call a Los Angeles extortion defense lawyer from Spolin Law P.C. We will carefully review your circumstances, protect your rights during an investigation, and discuss with defenses against bribery charges.
Public Corruption Under Federal Law
Public corruption encompasses bribery and extortion. Under federal law, public corruption involves a breach of trust with the public or an abuse of a person’s power as a federal, state, or local official, or as a business person or other professional. Types of public corruption include bribery, extortion, embezzlement, kickbacks, campaign fraud or other legal violations, fraud against the government, money laundering, grafting, bid rigging, and other crimes that violate the public’s trust. When a politician or government faces accusations of public corruption, they may face criminal charges for the underlying crime. If you are worried your position may cause you to face accusations of corruption, call a Los Angeles extortion defense lawyer right away.
Examples of this offense include:
- A powerful tech company paid for a politician to spend time with sex workers in exchange for the politician ensuring the company received government contracts.
- A state government official solicited bribes in exchange for helping a politician fill a vacant Senate seat.
- A politician released public funds to an organization in exchange for that organization providing significant campaign contributions.
- A government employee uses government funds to purchase expensive supplies from a company the employee has an ownership interest in.
Being accused of public corruption can end your career. If you are just getting started in your field, it is especially important that you vigorously defend yourself.
Federal Charges for Extortion, Bribery, or Public Corruption
There are several federal statutes listed in the United States Code (U.S.C.) that encompass extortion, bribery, and public corruption. Our Los Angeles extortion defense lawyers can assist you if you’re facing accusations of the following:
- 18 U.S.C. §201 — Bribery of public officials and witnesses
- 18 U.S.C. §224 — Bribery in sporting contests
- 18 U.S.C. §666 — Theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds
- 18 U.S.C. §872 — Extortion by officers or employees of the U.S.
- 18 U.S.C. §873 — Blackmail regarding informing or not informing regarding a violation of U.S. law
- 18 U.S.C. §875 — Extortion or ransom through interstate communications
- 18 U.S.C. §878 — Threats or extortion against foreign officials
- 18 U.S.C. §880 — Receiving the proceeds of extortion
- 18 U.S.C. §1951 (The Hobbs Act) — Interference with commerce by threats or violence
If you are facing allegations of extortion, bribery, or public corruption, do not wait to call an attorney to learn more about defenses against bribery charges. These allegations can ruin your reputation and career. Let the highly experienced attorneys at Spolin Law P.C. defend you against these accusations.
The Hobbs Act
Several laws prohibit extortion and can be used to bring individuals up on charges. One of the most common laws used to charge individuals with extortion is The Hobbs Act. This prohibits any actual or attempted robbery or extortion that affects interstate or foreign commerce. It also encompasses conspiracy to commit these acts.
To convict a person of extortion under The Hobbs Act, a federal prosecutor must prove:
- The defendant induced or attempted to induce the victim to give up property or property rights
- The defendant used or attempted to use the victim’s reasonable fear of physical injury or economic harm to induce the victim to consent to give up property
- The defendant’s conduct actually or potentially obstructed, delayed, or affected interstate or foreign commerce in a realistic way or degree
- The defendant’s actual or threatened use of force, violence, or fear was intentional and wrongful
Whether you are facing charges under The Hobbs Act, or are under investigation for a violation of the act, call a Los Angeles extortion defense lawyer immediately.
Penalties for Federal Extortion, Bribery, and Public Corruption
The potential sanctions for a bribery, extortion, or corruption charge depend on several factors.
To begin with, the statute under which you are charged may outline a specific penalty. For example, extortion by officers or employees of the U.S. (18 U.S.C. §872) is punishable by up to one year in prison — if the amount extorted is less than $1,000, or up to three years and fines. Other extortion crimes lead to harsher penalties. A violation of The Hobbs Act can lead to a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. You need to speak with an experienced Los Angeles extortion defense lawyer to understand the maximum statutory penalty.
If you are found guilty, other factors will influence your sentence. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines take into consideration the seriousness of an offense and your criminal history. Various circumstances, such as threats of bodily harm or kidnapping, can increase the seriousness level of the crime. Additionally, the value of a bribe or extortion can influence the length of your sentence and other penalties.
Many factors can lower or increase your potential punishment, always speak with an attorney as soon as possible. You need a clear picture of the charges and potential penalties you face.
Bribery and Corruption Under California Law
In all of their forms, extortion, bribery, and corruption are not only illegal under federal law. California also has many criminal statutes prohibiting these crimes. If you are a public official, government employee, judicial officer, another public figure, or a business person, and you have been accused of soliciting or accepting a bribe, call Spolin Law P.C. immediately to discuss defenses to bribery charges.
Hiring an experienced Los Angeles extortion defense lawyer is a necessity. In order to obtain a conviction, California prosecutors have to prove that a person offers to give or gives a public officer something of value, or a public officer asks for, receives, or agrees to receive something of value to influence an official matter.
Under California Penal Code (PC), Part 1, Title 7, Chapter 1, there are several statutes regarding bribery and corruption:
If you give or offer to give a bribe to any judicial officer, juror, arbitrator, sports official, or any other person who may be authorized to determine any question or controversy, with the intent to influence their decision, you face a prison sentence of two, three, or four years.
Any judicial officer, juror, arbitrator, sports official, or another person who is authorized to determine a question or controversy who asks for, receives, or agrees to receive any bribe to influence their decision can be punished by imprisonment of two, three, or four years.
Any judicial officer who asks or receives any gratuity or reward, or the promise of one, for doing any official act is guilty of a misdemeanor. They may have to forfeit their office and become disqualified from holding a similar position in the future.
Every judge, justice, commissioner, or assistant commissioner of California who accepts any money or thing of value for performing a marriage is guilty of a misdemeanor. This offense does not require that the money or gift be related to any criminal intent, such as extortion.
Any person who corruptly influences a juror or anyone summoned as a juror, or an arbitrator, umpire, or referee, in respect to that person’s decision or verdict, can be charged with a felony.
Anyone who threatens a juror with respect to a criminal proceeding and who has the intent and ability to carry out the threat is guilty of a public offense.
If anyone knowingly provides a defendant or former defendant with information from sealed court records in order to find a juror is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Anyone licensed under the Business and Professions Code Division 3 Chapter 11.5, who gives a defendant or former defendant information regarding where to locate or communicate with a juror is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Any juror, person summoned as a juror, arbitrator, umpire, or referee who makes a promise to give a certain verdict or decision, or willingly permits any communication outside of regular proceedings, can be charged with a felony.
Any judicial officer, court commissioner, or refer who commits any act they know obstructs justice is guilty of a public offense.
Every officer convicted of a crime under this section of the California Penal Code forfeits their office and cannot ever hold office in the state again.
The Superintendent of State Printing shall not have any direct or indirect interest in any contract that is in any way connected with their office; any state printing, binding, engraving, lithography, or other state work connected to their office; or any contract for furnishing paper or other printing stock or material for use by their office.
If the Superintendent of the State Printing corruptly colludes with any other person furnishing paper or materials, or bidding for that position, or has any secret understanding to defraud the state, they can be convicted of a crime and shall forfeit their office.
If you have been accused of any of the above offenses, call a Los Angeles extortion defense lawyer from Spolin Law P.C. We can evaluate your case and propose possible defenses against bribery charges. Call us today to learn more.
Extortion Under California Law
In California, extortion is a separate offense from bribery. The distinction is that extortion requires leverage and fear, while bribery does not. During the commission of a bribery offense, the parties are focused on exchanging items of value. Neither party may be a victim, and both can be charged with a crime. During extortion, there is typically a victim who feels forced to provide something of value due to threats of violence, exposure, or a criminal or internal investigation.
Under Part 1, Title 13, Chapter 7 of the California Penal Code, you will find statutes prohibiting extortion.
Extortion is obtaining property or anything of value from another person (with their consent), or obtaining an official act by a public officer, by the wrongful use of force or fear, or under the pretense of having an official right.
Fear may be prompted by threatening the:
- Injury to the person, or property of the person threatened or to others
- Accusations that the victim or their relative committed an offense
- Exposing the victim’s “deformity, disgrace, or crime”
- Exposing a secret of the alleged victim
- Reporting a victim’s immigration status or suspected immigrating status
Anyone who extorts property or someone else of value by force or threat can be charged with a felony and punished with two, three, or four years in prison.
Anyone who commits any extortion under the color of official right can face misdemeanor charges.
Any person who, by extortion, obtains someone else’s signature to any paper or instrument, which would transfer any property, debt, demand, charge, or right can be charged with a crime as if the actual transfer took place.
If someone sends or delivers a letter or any writing that expresses or implies threats with the intent to extort the recipient of property, can be charged with a crime as if the property or item of value were actually obtained. This offense also includes “Ransomware” sent to any computer, system, or network.
Any person who tries, by means of threats, to extort property or anything of value from another person can face charges for a felony.
Regarding a felony offense, if the victim was an elderly or dependent person, then this is considered an aggravating circumstance that relates to sentencing.
Anyone who delivers a document “purporting to be an order or process of the court” with the intent to obtain another person’s property or items of value, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Anyone who sells or offers to sell, print, publish, or distribute any paper that is designed to lead a person to believe it is related to the court process is guilty of a misdemeanor.
If you are facing accusations for any of the above offenses in California, call a Los Angeles extortion defense lawyer from Spolin Law P.C. right away.
Punishments for Bribery, Extortion, and Corruption Under California Law
There is a significant range of potential penalties for bribery, extortion, or corruption if you are charged and convicted under California law. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you may face up to one year in jail and fines.
If you are charged with a felony, you face several years in prison. The statute may specifically define the potential term of incarceration, such as prescribing two, three, or four years of incarceration. These are not a range for a term of incarceration. The sentencing judge must require you to serve two, three, or four years.
Defenses Against Bribery Charges and Other Related Offenses
When you are facing federal or state-level charges for bribery, extortion, or corruption, you need to speak with a Los Angeles extortion defense lawyer at Spolin Law P.C. We will objectively investigate the accusations against you and analyze the evidence. Through this thorough review of the case, we will determine the most appropriate defense strategy, which may include claiming:
- Lack of specific intent
- Voluntary or involuntary intoxication
- Insufficient evidence
- Lack of mental capacity
Contact a Los Angeles Extortion Defense Lawyer for Help
Whether you are a government employee, public official, or public figure who has been accused of a crime, or the allegations claim you tried to bribe or extort a public official, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side.
Accusations of bribery, extortion, and corruption need to be taken seriously and addressed immediately. By working with an attorney, you may clear up a misunderstanding with the investigators, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). If a prosecutor pursues charges against you, the Los Angeles extortion defense lawyers at Spolin Law P.C. will immediately begin building you a strong and aggressive defense strategy.
To learn more about these criminal charges and potential defenses, call us at (310) 424-5816, or reach us online to schedule a free case consultation.