Extortion vs Bribery 

Extortion and bribery are both severe white-collar crimes. While there are similarities between these two offenses, there are also important distinctions. In some cases, individuals may even find themselves with overlapping bribery and extortion charges.

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If you were arrested or charged with either of these crimes, a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney with De Castroverde Law Group Criminal & Immigration can explain extortion vs. bribery and discuss your legal options.

Bribery vs Extortion

Are Bribery & Extortion the Same?

No. Bribery and extortion are different, though these crimes can be alike. These terms also sometimes get entangled with the concepts of blackmail and quid pro quo.

What Is Bribery?

Bribery is offering, giving, asking for, or receiving money or things of value to influence someone in public office. The party offering and accepting the bribe can be guilty of this crime.

According to 18 U.S. Code § 201, there are three essential elements to bribery:

  1. Offering or promising money or something of value to a public official
  2. Intending to influence an official to take action or refrain from taking action
  3. Intending to induce an official to commit or allow fraud or to do or refrain from doing something that violates their public duty

Similarly, Nevada state law defines bribery as giving, offering, or promising someone in a role of public authority any compensation, gratuity, or reward to influence the performance of their duty.

What Is Extortion?

Extortion is the use of threats, pressure, or scare tactics to induce another party to provide money, goods, or services. Extortion usually involves one party victimizing another. The person under extortion is often not committing a crime.

However, blackmail is a form of extortion where both parties may be guilty. With blackmail, the extorted party willingly cooperates with the blackmailer because they want to keep something hidden. When this occurs, the blackmailed person may also be violating the law.

What Is Quid Pro Quo

You may have heard the term “quid pro quo,” which means “something for something.” It involves a favor or advantage in exchange for something.

Quid pro quo is always a part of bribery, but not all quid pro quo is bribery. For example, when you purchase at a store, you exchange money for goods. Technically, this is quid pro quo, but it is not a crime because it is a transaction made in good faith.

Punishments for Bribery and Extortion

At the federal level, 18 U.S. Code § 201 states that the punishment for bribery is a fine of up to three times the sum involved in the crime and up to 15 years in prison. Those convicted may also be disqualified from holding “any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”

According to 18 U.S. Code § 872, punishment for those committing extortion can include fines, up to one year in federal prison, or both. Public officials guilty of extortion could face stricter penalties, including up to three years in jail.

The extortion charge involving interstate or foreign commerce may be punishable under the Hobbs Act. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Hobbs Act was originally enacted in the 1940s to combat racketeering in labor-management disputes. Today, it is often used to prosecute cases involving public corruption. Hobbs Act convictions may carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

At the state level, punishment for bribery depends on the person being bribed. Commercial bribery is a misdemeanor that could result in 6 months imprisonment and $1,000 in fines. Witness, judge/juror, public officer, or sports bribery is a Class C felony that involves a prison sentence of between one and 10 years and up to $10,000 in fines.

Extortion at the state level also carries a fine of up to $10,000 and between one and 10 years of imprisonment.

Defenses Against Bribery or Extortion Charges

Every case is different, and the best defense in a bribery or extortion case will depend on the unique facts and circumstances involved. That said, common defenses against bribery and extortion may include:

  • Lack of intent – Bribery and extortion are crimes only if you intend to obtain influence, services, money, or something else of value. You may be able to build a defense off of lack of intent if you can prove that was not the goal of the exchange in question.
  • Lack of value – This defense argues that the things exchanged had no value. Therefore, the exchange does not qualify as bribery or extortion.
  • Lack of involvement of a public official – You may be able to prove that the party involved in the exchanges was not a public official when the exchange occurred.
  • Lack of threat – Extortion takes place under threat. You may be able to argue that no threat existed.
  • Lack of evidence – Prosecutors must prove a party is guilty of bribery or extortion “beyond a reasonable doubt.” You may be able to demonstrate that the prosecutor lacks sufficient evidence of a crime.

What Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Do for You? 

Getting arrested and charged with a crime can be scary. How you proceed and what you say and do can make or break your case. With your finances and freedom on the line, you may want the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can protect your rights.

The team with De Castroverde Law Group Criminal & Immigration can do the following to defend you against bribery or extortion:

  • Evaluate your charges and review the evidence against you
  • Attempt to have your charges dismissed or pled down to a lesser offense
  • Help you argue for fair bail and post a bond
  • Investigate your case and look for evidence in your favor
  • Depose witnesses
  • Represent you before a judge or jury
  • Appeal convictions

Contact De Castroverde Law Group Criminal & Immigration for Criminal Defense Help

While there are many differences between extortion vs. bribery, both are serious crimes with severe penalties. Suppose you or a loved one faces bribery or extortion charges. In that case, a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer with De Castroverde Law Group Criminal & Immigration can fight to protect your rights. Call now or contact us today for a case review.