Bribery of Judges or Jurors in California - Penal Code 92 PC
In California, it's a felony crime to bribe a judge, juror, or any other judicial officer. Likewise, it's also a crime for jurors or judicial officials to accept bribes. Violations of this law carry severe legal penalties if convicted, such as up to four years in prison.
Penal Code 92 PC defines this crime as “any person who gives or offers a bribe a judicial officer, juror, referee, arbitrator, or umpire, or someone who may be authorized by law to hear or determine any question, with the intent to influence their vote, opinion, or decision regarding any matter or question which is or may be brought before him for decision, is punishable by up to four years in prison.”
California Penal Code 93 PC is a closely related statute that states: “All judicial officers, jurors, referees, arbitrators, or umpires that ask, receive, or agree to any bribe to influence their decision is facing up to four years in prison, and if no bribe was received, by restitution and a fine up to $10,000.”
Other related statutes in California include bribery of a witness defined under Penal Code 137 and 138 PC that criminalize bribery by and of witnesses a crime.
Penal Codes 67 and 68 PC criminalize somebody bribing any executive officers and for them to ask for a bribe. Our California criminal defense attorneys will examine these laws in more detail below.
What Does the Law Say?
Bribery is offering, promising, or giving money, favors, or any items of value to influence someone else's actions. Judicial bribery is an attempt to influence the decision of a judge or juror to get a favorable outcome in a legal proceeding.
As discussed above, the bribery of a judicial officer and one accepting a bribe is defined under California Penal Code 92 PC and 93 PC, as discussed below.
Penal Code 92 PC covers bribing "any judicial officer, juror, referee, arbitrator, umpire, or any person who may be authorized by law to hear or determine any question or controversy."
To convict you for violating this law, the prosecutor has to be able to prove the elements of the crime, including:
- You gave, or offered, something of value to a judicial officer; and
- The gift was given with corrupt intent to influence their decision, vote, or determination regarding a legal matter.
Penal Code 93 PC covers situations where a judicial officer, arbitrator, referee, umpire, or juror accepts bribes. It's also a crime for them to ask for one.
To convict you of violating this law, prosecutors have to be able to demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you:
- Were a California judicial officer;
- You asked for, accepted, or made an agreement to accept a bribe;
- You intended that the illegal bribe would influence your opinion, decision, or execution of your duty.
The illegal conduct of giving or offering a bribe to a judicial officer and the officer requesting or receiving a bribe are both felony crimes that carry two, three, or four years in a California state prison.
What Are the Related Crimes?
Numerous crimes are similar to bribing a juror or judge and receiving a bribe, such as the following:
- Witness tampering under Penal Code 137 PC attempts to bribe, influence, intimidate, or threaten a witness to testify in a certain way.
- Bribery by a witness under Penal Code 138 PC is when a witness asks for, requests, or receives a bribe in exchange for testifying or agreeing not to testify.
- Bribery of an executive officer under Penal Code 67 PC is any attempt to bribe an executive officer to corrupt the execution of their duties.
- Bribery by an executive officer is when an executive officer asks for or receives a bribe for the corrupt execution of their duties.
What Are the Legal Defenses?
Some legal defenses can be used to challenge charges of bribing or attempting to bribe a judge or juror, which are reviewed below.
Perhaps we can argue that you didn't act with corrupt intent. Put simply, you did not give the payment to influence their opinion or decision, or the transaction was misinterpreted as a bribe. Perhaps we can argue that the alleged bribe was not given in exchange for a favorable outcome ("quid pro quo").
Perhaps we can argue that you are the victim of police entrapment.If law enforcement coerced you into offering a bribe you otherwise would not have offered, then this could be considered entrapment.
Likewise, anyone accused of accepting or asking for a bribe as a juror or judicial officer could make the arguments discussed below.
Maybe we can argue that you did not act with corrupt intent, such as not soliciting the gift or payment to influence your decision, or the transaction was misconstrued as a bribe. Maybe we can argue that the facility did not affect your decision.
Maybe you were not engaging in a legal matter when the gift was accepted. Again, perhaps we can argue entrapment by stating you would not have taken the gift if the police had not coerced you into requesting or receiving a bribe.
If you need additional information or legal representation against these charges, contact us to examine all the details and discuss all the legal options. Eisner Gorin LLP is based in Los Angeles, California. You can contact us for a case evaluation by phone or using the contact form.