The history of bribery is as long as the history of humanity; one has to look no further than the story of Judas taking 30 pieces of silver to hand over Jesus for prominent examples of bribery and corruption that have shaped our human story.
But not all exchanges of money or other property for information, favors, or other benefits is considered illicit, and in our modern times we need to look at what our state and federal laws say in determining whether the receipt of a gift in explicit or implicit benefits constitutes a criminal act.
In Oklahoma, you can indeed be convicted of a felony crime for bribery – bringing with it up to ten years imprisonment in a state prison – for certain acts of accepting cash or other benefits. Below we discuss two of the primary bribery crimes in Oklahoma: bribery of a public officer, and bribery of a fiduciary.
Bribery of a Public Officer in Oklahoma
Under Section 21-382 of the Oklahoma Criminal Code, it is a felony offense for a public officer to either accept or request a gift in exchange for doing an act (or refraining from doing an act) within that person’s public role to benefit another person. Such acts could include:
- making a judgment in a particular public manner
- making a nomination or appointment
- another discretionary act which favors the person giving the gift or another person whose benefit is sought by the offeror of the gift
For purposes of this rule, public officers who can be convicted of this crime of bribery in Oklahoma include:
- any executive, legislative, county, municipal, judicial, or other public officer;
- any employee of the State of Oklahoma or any political subdivision thereof;
- peace officers and any other law enforcement officer;
- or any person assuming to act as a public officer.
If convicted, a defendant faces a sentence of up to 10 years in a state penitentiary and a $5,000 fine.
Bribery of a Fiduciary in Oklahoma
In addition to public officers, persons acting as a “fiduciary” in Oklahoma also face up to 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine if they accept or solicit bribes. Under Section 21-380 of the Oklahoma Criminal Code, a fiduciary is a person who works on behalf of a beneficiary. Such fiduciaries can include:
- an agent or employee;
- a trustee, guardian, custodian, administrator, executor, conservator, receiver, or similar fiduciary;
- a lawyer, physician, accountant, appraiser, or other professional advisor;
- an officer, director, partner, manager, or other participant in the direction of the affairs of a corporation or association.
Thus, when a fiduciary with corrupt intent accepts or solicits a bribe from a third party (meaning someone other than the beneficiary) to act in a way that affects the interests of the beneficiary, and without the consent of the beneficiary, they may face felony bribery charges.
Experienced Criminal Defense
Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney Patrick Quillian is a former Oklahoma district attorney who relies on his years of experience in prosecuting cases to provide the best possible defense for all defendants. If you are facing criminal charges in Oklahoma, contact the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, today at 405.294.4448 to schedule a free consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.