California Penal Code 67 & 68 PC | “Bribery of Public Employees” Laws Explained

Former Prosecutors, Trusted By CNN, Fox News & CBS For Criminal Defense Analysis

Hannah Graham Case Analysis By Diana Aizman
Aaron Hernandez Trial
Oscar Pistorius Case
Robert Kirk Murder
Geraldo Interview
David Barajas Case

The text of each section is provided directly below:

California Penal Code 67 –  Every person who gives or offers any bribe to any executive officer in this state, with intent to influence him in respect to any act, decision, vote, opinion, or other proceeding as such officer, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three or four years, and is disqualified from holding any office in this state.

California Penal Code 67.5 –  (a) Every person who gives or offers as a bribe to any ministerial officer, employee, or appointee of the State of California, county or city therein, or political subdivision thereof, any thing the theft of which would be petty theft is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(b) If the theft of the thing given or offered would be grand theft the offense is a felony punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.

California Penal Code 68 –  (a) Every executive or ministerial officer, employee, or appointee of the State of California, a county or city therein, or a political subdivision thereof, who asks, receives, or agrees to receive, any bribe, upon any agreement or understanding that his or her vote, opinion, or action upon any matter then pending, or that may be brought before him or her in his or her official capacity, shall be influenced thereby, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years and, in cases in which no bribe has been actually received, by a restitution fine of not less than two thousand dollars ($2,000) or not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or, in cases in which a bribe was actually received, by a restitution fine of at least the actual amount of the bribe received or two thousand dollars ($2,000), whichever is greater, or any larger amount of not more than double the amount of any bribe received or ten thousand dollars ($10,000), whichever is greater, and, in addition thereto, forfeits his or her office, employment, or appointment, and is forever disqualified from holding any office, employment, or appointment, in this state.

(b) In imposing a restitution fine pursuant to this section, the court shall consider the defendant’s ability to pay the fine.

Definition of Bribe

Under California Law a bribe takes place when a public official corruptly makes a decision or intervenes on behalf of someone in exchange for money or something of value. Bribery can be prosecuted under both solicitation of a bribe and offering a bribe to a public officer of employee.

What Is Bribery Of An Executive Officer Under California Penal Code 67?

The California Penal Code section 67 covers bribe1 to an executive officer2 which entails giving3 something of value to an executive officer for the purpose of influencing the officer’s act/decision/opinion in your favor4

Some examples of an executive officer are a police officer, deputy sheriff, commissioner, and police chief.5

What Is Bribery Of a Ministerial Officer Or Public Employee Under California Penal Code 67.5?

The California Penal Code section 67.5 covers bribe to a ministerial officer6 or public employee which entails giving something of value to a ministerial officer or public employee for the purpose of influencing the officer’s act/decision/opinion in your favor.

Some examples of a ministerial officer or public employee are as follows: traffic clerk, building inspector, coroner.

What is Bribery by Executive/Ministerial Officers And Public Employees Under California Penal Code 68?

The California Penal Code section 68 covers bribes requested or agreed to by executive/ministerial officers and public employees.  In other words, the official himself/herself either requests or agrees to accept a bribe for the corrupt purpose of benefiting himself in exchange for an act/decision/opinion in the briber’s favor.

How Does The Prosecutor Prove Bribery Of An Executive Officer?

To prove that you are guilty of bribery of an executive officer, the prosecutor has to prove the following facts or elements7:

  • you gave or offered a bribe
  • to an executive officer
  • you acted with the corrupt intent8
  • to unlawfully influence that officer’s official act/decision/vote/opinion

For example: Joe, a drug dealer, slips the police chief a fat envelope with cash to “persuade” him not to turn over physical evidence of narcotics discovered in his car.  Although Joe did not say anything to the police chief, the action itself shows corrupt intent to bribe to influence the chief’s decision.  If the jury determines that Joe in fact had such intent, Joe will be convicted of bribery.

How Does The Prosecutor Prove Bribery Of a Ministerial Officer or Public Employee?

To prove that you are guilty of bribery by executive/ ministerial officer or public employee, the prosecutor has to prove the following facts or elements:9

An executive or ministerial officer or public employee requested or agreed to receive10

  • something of value
  • with a corrupt intent
  • for the purpose of influencing the officer’s or employee’s decision in an official matter

For example: The deputy sheriff tells Sam that if he gives him his Harley Davidson motorcycle, that he will not ask Sam any questions about last night’s incident wherein he saw Sam get into an altercation with another man whom Sam battered severely and left bleeding on the street.

Who Can Be Charged With Bribery Under Penal Code 67 PC?

Generally anyone who offers a bribe to any of the officials as defined above with corrupt intent can be charged with bribery.  Moreover, even if the briber does not state specific words and does not engage in specific behavior, as long as the language used and the circumstances clearly show intent to bribe, he/she can be charged with bribery.  Additionally, any official, as defined above, who requests or agrees to receive a bribe with corrupt intent can be charged with bribery.

As illustrated in the example above, even though Mary did not specifically ask the traffic clerk to rip up her citation in exchange for a Rolex watch, the circumstances clearly showed her corrupt intent, because she presented her citation ticket to the clerk and then immediately proceeded to slip a brand new Rolex through the window.  Under these circumstances, Mary will likely be charged with bribery.

Legal Defenses

There are several defenses that your attorney can assert on your behalf to fight a charge of bribery.  Here are the most common ones:

(a) Lack of corrupt intent: because one of the elements the prosecutor has to show is that the defendant had corrupt intent, if you can show that you acted without such intent, you cannot be charged with bribery.  For example, you could have offered a police officer a bribe just because you were scared of what may potentially happen.  However, you may not have had any corrupt intent for the bribe.

(b) Coercion ((Extortion is bribery with the additional element of coercion.  Accordingly, the defendant cannot be guilty of receiving a bribe and extortion in the same transaction. (People v. Powell (1920) 50 Cal.App. 436, 441 [195 P. 456].))

(c) Entrapment ((The crime is complete once an offer is made. Accordingly, subsequent efforts to procure corroborative evidence do not constitute entrapment. (People v. Finkelstin (1950) 98 Cal.App.2d 545, 553 [220 P.2d 934]; People v. Bunkers (1905) 2 Cal.App. 197, 209 [84 P. 364].)) is conduct by a law enforcement agent inducing a person to commit an offense that the person would otherwise have been unlikely to commit and therefore may be a defense to criminal liability.  In such a situation, because the idea originated with the law enforcement and not with the defendant himself/herself, it would serve as a defense to criminal liability.

(d) Intoxication: voluntary intoxication can be a defense if you can show that you were intoxicated and that as a result, you were unable to form the corrupt intent that the prosecutor has to prove.

advocacy for bribery

Penalties & Punishment For a Bribery Conviction Under California Law?

advocacy for bribery

There are several defenses that your attorney can assert on your behalf to fight a charge of bribery.  Here are the most common ones:

(a) Lack of corrupt intent: because one of the elements the prosecutor has to show is that the defendant had corrupt intent, if you can show that you acted without such intent, you cannot be charged with bribery.  For example, you could have offered a police officer a bribe just because you were scared of what may potentially happen.  However, you may not have had any corrupt intent for the bribe.

(b) Coercion ((Extortion is bribery with the additional element of coercion.  Accordingly, the defendant cannot be guilty of receiving a bribe and extortion in the same transaction. (People v. Powell (1920) 50 Cal.App. 436, 441 [195 P. 456].))

(c) Entrapment ((The crime is complete once an offer is made. Accordingly, subsequent efforts to procure corroborative evidence do not constitute entrapment. (People v. Finkelstin (1950) 98 Cal.App.2d 545, 553 [220 P.2d 934]; People v. Bunkers (1905) 2 Cal.App. 197, 209 [84 P. 364].)) is conduct by a law enforcement agent inducing a person to commit an offense that the person would otherwise have been unlikely to commit and therefore may be a defense to criminal liability.  In such a situation, because the idea originated with the law enforcement and not with the defendant himself/herself, it would serve as a defense to criminal liability.

(d) Intoxication: voluntary intoxication can be a defense if you can show that you were intoxicated and that as a result, you were unable to form the corrupt intent that the prosecutor has to prove.

Request A Free Consultation 818-351-9555 

Footnotes

  1. As used here, a bribe means something of present or future value or advantage, or a promise to give such a thing, that is given or offered with the corrupt intent to unlawfully influence the public or official action, vote, decision, or opinion of the person to whom the bribe is given.  Calcrim No. 2600; Bribe Defined. Penal Code, § 7(6). []
  2. An executive officer is a government official who may use his or her own discretion in performing his or her job duties.  Executive Officer Defined.  People v. Strohl (1976) 57 Cal.App.3d 347, 361 [129 Cal.Rptr. 224.] []
  3. The executive officer does not need to have accepted the bribe. []
  4. Offering a bribe does not require specific words or behavior, as long as the language used and the circumstances clearly show an intent to bribe.  The thing offered does not need to actually be given, exist at the time it is offered, or have a specific value. []
  5. CALCRIM No. 2600; Giving or Offering a Bribe to an Executive Officer (Penal Code 67). []
  6. A ministerial officer is an officer who has a clear and mandatory duty involving the performance of specific tasks without the exercise of discretion; where the law prescribes and defines the duties to be performed with such precision and certainty as to leave nothing to the exercise of discretion or judgment, the act is ministerial.]  Ministerial Officer Defined. Gov. Code, § 820.25(b); People v. Strohl (1976) 57 Cal.App.3d 347, 361 [129 Cal.Rptr. 224]. []
  7. Elements. Penal Code 67; CALCRIM No. 2600. []
  8. Corrupt Intent Is an Element of Bribery. People v. Gliksman (1978) 78 Cal.App.3d 343, 351 [144 Cal.Rptr. 451]; People v. Zerillo (1950) 36 Cal.2d 222, 232 [223 P.2d 223].  A person acts with corrupt intent when he or she acts to wrongfully gain a financial or other advantage for himself, herself, or someone else.  Corrupt Intent Defined. Pen. Code, § 7, subd. 3. []
  9. Elements. Penal Code 68; CALCRIM No. 2603. []
  10. Requesting or agreeing to take a bribe does not require specific words or behavior, as long as the language used and the circumstances clearly show that the person is seeking a bribe from someone else. The prosecutor does not need to prove that the other person actually consented to give a bribe.  CALCRIM No. 2603. []

Related Posts