Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys / Boston, MA
Public corruption charges are almost exclusively lodged against politicians and government officials. As if the shame of an indictment weren’t enough, the potential consequences can be severe, including prison and large fines.
Public Corruption Defense Attorneys
At Simons Law Office, we have experience representing public officials, and understand the complexities involved. We get to know our clients and develop a strategy toward reaching their goals. It should go without saying that a top priority is to minimize or avoid prison time, but there can be a myriad of other considerations as well. For example, clients charged with public corruption may be concerned about their privacy and that of their family, their reputation, career, criminal record, and the potential seizure of money and property. Our defense attorneys work closely with clients to ensure the best possible outcomes.
In addition to politicians, other officials can be targeted with public corruption charges, such as police officers, firefighters, and government appointees. Public corruption charges might go hand in hand with embezzlement, bribery, money laundering, fraud, or abuse of public office indictments, to name a few.
If you have been charged with public corruption, you need a top-tier defense firm. Our criminal defense attorneys are among the best of the best. Call us at 781-797-0555 for a free telephone consultation.
Public corruption is broad, and can include a huge number of alleged acts. Prosecutors have devoted an enormous amount of time and effort into these cases. Some units’ sole focus is public corruption, including the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section.
The Department of Justice brings charges against federal employees for alleged conflicts of interest. Other prosecutions come about as a result of alleged wage and hour fraud, bribery, or false statements on the job. Federal contractors can be charged with bid rigging, and state officials can be accused of campaign finance violations. It would be almost impossible to list all possible scenarios, because the list of targets and alleged acts is seemingly endless.
Public Corruption Charges
There are a number of specific charges that can fall under the umbrella of “public corruption” allegations, including:
Receiving Bribe by Public Official: A public official may be guilty of receiving a bribe if that person, acting corruptly, directly or indirectly demands or receives, or agrees to demand or receive, something of value in return for being influenced in his performance of an official act or omission of an official act in violation of his official duty. A public official acts “corruptly” if he intentionally acts with an unlawful purpose. A “public official” includes any officer, employee, or agent of the United States or any department, agency, or branch of the federal government who is acting in an official capacity. Notably, jurors sitting on a federal jury fall within the definition of public official for the purposes of this crime. An “official act” denotes any decision or action on any cause or proceeding that may be brought before a public official in his official capacity.
Receiving Illegal Gratuity by a Public Official: A public official may be guilty of receiving an illegal gratuity if the public official demands or receives something of value in return for performance of an official act. A “public official” includes any officer, employee, or agent of the United States or any department, agency, or branch of the federal government who is acting in an official capacity. Again, jurors sitting on a federal jury fall within the definition of public official for the purposes of this crime. An “official act” denotes any decision or action on any cause or proceeding that may be brought before a public official in his official capacity.
Theft of Government Money or Property: A public official may be guilty of theft of government money or property if the public official steals or embezzles, for his own use and with knowledge that the money or property does not belong to him, money or property valued at more than $1000 that belongs to the federal government. A person “embezzles” when he, having lawfully come into possession or control of another’s money or property, wrongfully and intentionally takes that money or property for his own use. The “value” of property is determined as the highest of the property’s face, par or market value at any time during the commission of the crime. The public official need not know that the money or property belonged to the federal government so long as he knew that the money or property did not belong to him.
Conspiracy is almost always included in a public corruption case. Conspiracies are easy to allege and can be difficult to defend. They also make it possible for the government to charge more people for additional acts.
Penalties for Public Corruption Convictions
If you are convicted for charges related to public corruption, the penalties can include long prison sentences and large fines.
Receiving Bribe by Public Official carries up to fifteen years in prison, plus up to three times the monetary value of the bribe.
Receiving Illegal Gratuity by a Public Official carries a punishment of fines and up to two years in prison.
Theft of Government Money or Property convictions lead to a punishment of up to 10 years in prison, if the value of the property taken was $1,000 or more. If the value was less than $1,000, the maximum prison sentence is one year. Punishment also generally includes fines.
Conspiracy is a separate crime, but the penalties are based on the underlying object of the conspiracy. In most public corruption cases, the underlying crimes constitute felonies. In those cases, the punishment for conspiracy includes up to five years in prison plus fines. If the underlying crime is a misdemeanor, the maximum punishment for the conspiracy is equal to the maximum punishment for that crime.
Defending Against Public Corruption Charges
Every case is different, so you need an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to evaluate the potential defenses in order to develop a winning strategy. Generally, though, it is advantageous to get a defense attorney on board as soon as possible. Sometimes early intervention can stop an already big problem from ballooning. We can conduct our own investigation, interview witnesses, evaluate and challenge the evidence against you. Sometimes the acts are simply a mischaracterization of what really happened. For example, the government must prove “intent,” and our job might be putting actions and words into context to explain away the allegations. Innocent actions can easily be misconstrued.
Our defense attorneys know how to put things into perspective. We have trial experience that has led to not guilty verdicts after trial, and dismissals prior to trial. Of course, our past experience does not guarantee a result in every case. We are brutally honest with our clients about the strengths and weaknesses of a case. You can count on us to give you the pros and cons in a fair and balanced approach. It is always the client’s decision whether to plead guilty or fight the charges at trial. When you make a decision to go to trial, we are ready to fight. Unlike some attorneys who encourage clients to plead out on every case, we conduct thorough evaluations of the evidence and make sure our clients understand the implications of all options. We like to try cases, and fight hard. On the other hand, we are expert negotiators when our clients elect to resolve a case by way of a pre-trial guilty plea. In those cases, our attention turns to mitigating and humanizing; it comes down to arguing for leniency and avoiding the harshest punishments.
If you are under investigation or have been charged with public corruption, contact us today. We can help.