Even law enforcement officers are not exempt from facing criminal charges, as evidenced by a recent case involving a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy. The deputy was charged on June 5 in conjunction with allegations that he had fixed traffic tickets in exchange for bribes.
According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, the 43-year-old deputy was charged in case number BA425745 with six counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice, two counts of accepting a bribe and one count of preparing false documents. All charges were related to allegations that the deputy received money from friends or acquaintances in exchange for getting rid of their traffic tickets. For example, prosecutors alleged that the deputy received at least $1,000 in 2012 from a driver to get rid of 3 tickets.
Prosecutors have alleged that the deputy was able to commit the offenses by removing the tickets from the system before they were filed in court and by taking court notices from a colleague's office mailbox without that person's knowledge.
Prosecutors have recommended bail be set at $190,000. The deputy faces up to nine years and eight months in prison if he is convicted. His arraignment is set for June 25.
About Bribery Charges & Penalties
Law enforcement officers have dangerous and difficult jobs and may be exposed to all types of bribes or offers in exchange for looking the other way, fixing traffic tickets, hiding evidence or committing other acts that go against their sworn duties. If they give in, they may face serious criminal charges themselves. The person who offered the bribe may also be criminally charged. Bribery charges may even be filed if the bribe itself is not given but is merely offered or accepted.
California Penal Code § 7 defines bribery as offering, asking, giving or accepting money or another thing of value with the intent to unlawfully influence one's action, vote, role or opinion in a public or official capacity. A law enforcement officer, for example, may be offered a bribe in exchange for an act or inaction related to his or her duties, like not giving a person a traffic ticket or removing evidence from a crime scene.
Bribery is a two-way crime, meaning both the person who offers the bribe and the person who accepts it may face criminal charges. Moreover, bribery may be charged at a state or federal level, depending on the circumstances of the case. A defendant may face serious penalties and additional charges related to the bribes, such as the obstruction of justice and preparing false documents charges against the deputy in the above case. This only adds to the potential prison sentence a defendant may face if convicted.
In addition to facing fines and imprisonment, a person who holds an official position may be removed from office if convicted of bribery.
Get additional information regarding bribery and other criminal charges that may be filed against law enforcement personnel by calling our offices. At Lessem & Newstat, we represent defendants throughout Southern California in the face of all misdemeanor and felony charges in both state and federal court. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys are standing by to answer your questions and offer insight that applies to your unique case and concerns.