Bribing A Public Official Defense Attorney

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Bribing a Public Official

Bribing a public official is a federal criminal offense. First the government must show that the defendant directly or indirectly day or something of value to a public official. Second the government must show that the defendant did so correctly with the intent to influence an official act by the public official.

If you have been charged with, or are being investigated for, bribery of a public official then contact James S. Bell, PC today to schedule a consultation.


This page will give more information about mail fraud from the United States Court of Appeals Library for the Fifth Circuit (original source here in PDF format).



Title 18, United States Code, Section 201(b)(1), makes it a crime for anyone to bribe a public official. For you to find the defendant guilty of this crime, you must be convinced that the government has proved each of the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

First: That the defendant directly or indirectly gave [off [promised] something of value to
——————————— (insert name of public official or person selected to be a public official), a public official [person who has been selected to be a public official and

Second: That the defendant did so corruptly with intent to influence an official act by the public official [persuade the public official to omit an act in violation of his lawful duty] [persuade the public official to do an act in violation of his lawful duty].

The term “public official” means Member of Congress, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, either before or after such official has qualified, or an officer or employee of or person acting for or on behalf of the United States, or any department, agency or branch of Government thereof, including the District of Columbia, in any official function, under or by authority of any such department, agency, or branch of Government, or a juror.

[The term “person selected to be a public office means any person who has been nominated or appointed

on any matter, question, cause, suit, proceeding, or controversy, which may at any time be pending, or which may by law be brought before any public official, in such official capacity, or in such official place of trust or profit.]

An act is “corruptly” done if it is done intentionally with an unlawful purpose.

Similar instructions were used in United States v. Franco, 632 F.3d 880 (5th Cir. 2011), United States v. Whitfield, 590 F.3d 325, 348 (5th Cir. 2009), and United States v. Tomblin, 46 F.3d 1369, 1379–80 & n.16 (5th Cir. 1995). United States v. Pankhurst, 118 F.3d 345, 351 (5th Cir. 1997), describes the elements. “The federal bribery statute ‘has been accurately characterized as a comprehen- sive statute applicable to all persons performing activities for or on behalf of the United States, whatever the form of delegation of authority.’ ’’ United States v. Baymon, 312 F.3d 725, 728 (5th Cir. 2002) (quoting Dixson v. United States, 104 S. Ct. 1172 (1984)). This instruction charges a violation of § 201(b)(1)(A) or (C), but does not charge a violation of § 201(b)(1)(B).

The second element should be modified in such a case.

“Public office and “official act” are defined by 18 U.S.C.
§§ 201(a)(1) and (3). See also Franco, 632 F.32d at 886 (finding no plain error to define “public official” to include “an employee of a private corporation who acts for or on behalf of the federal government pursuant to a contract”). The term “person who has been selected to be a public official” is defined by 18 U.S.C. § 201(a)(2). For a useful discussion of “public official,” see Baymon, 312 F.3d at 728–29 (the fact that a supervisory cook at a federal correctional facility was a federal employee with official functions was sufficient to support a finding, under a plain error standard, that he was a “public official”), United States v. Thomas, 240 F.3d 445, 446–48 (5th Cir. 2001) (holding that a guard employed by a private company operating a detention facility under a contract with the Immigration and Naturalization Service is a “public official”), and United States v. Wilson, 408 F. App’x 798, 806 (5th Cir. 2010) (holding that a construction manager for waterway improvements employed by United States Army Corps of Engineers post-Katrina rebuilding is a “public official”). For a discussion of the scope of “official act,” see United States v. Parker, 133 F.3d 322, 325–26 (5th Cir. 1998).