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Commercial Bribery and Commercial Bribe Receiving: NY Penal Law Article 180

Not all Bribery related crimes in New York are equal. As a preliminary matter, these offenses can involve a private business or public agency. In the realm of private sector enterprises, whether the allegations involve Commercial Bribing, codified in New York Penal Law180.00 and 180.03, or Commercial Bribe Receiving, codified in Penal Law 180.05 and 180.08, what starts off as a mere investigation can lead to an arrest, indictment and even trial. As addressed further below, and better vetted with your defense attorney or criminal lawyer, it is imperative to get the lay of the proverbial land as early as possible in order to understand the charges and court process, and identify the best defense to this types of White Collar crimes.

Definitions, Elements and Potential Sentences

Second Degree Commercial Bribing: Penal Law 180.00

The lesser of the two schemes, you are guilty of this offense if you give a benefit of any kind to another person and he or she works as an employee, agent or fiduciary of a company. Another mandatory element that prosecutors must establish is that when you behaved in this manner you not only lacked the permission of the employer, but your objective was to influence the recipient’s conduct as it relates to the affairs of his or her business. If found guilty of this class “A” misdemeanor, your sentencing judge could incarcerate you for up to a year in jail, order you to probation, mandate community service or require a combination of all three.

First Degree Commercial Bribing: Penal Law 180.03

Bribing in this context is elevated from a misdemeanor to the felony when the elements of the lesser crime are met, but you, the accused, also provide a benefit with a value greater than $1,000.00 and the economic harm suffered by the business exceeds $250.00. The penalty for this offense increases to a potential one to three years in prison as a class “E” felony with the same possible alternate sentences.

Second Degree Commercial Bribe Receiving: Penal Law 180.05

The beneficiary of undeserved gifts faces the same potential consequences as the unauthorized provider. Simply, instead of giving, if, as an employee, fiduciary or agent of a company or business, you accept, or merely agree to accept, any benefit, no matter its value, upon an agreement or understanding that your conduct will be influenced as it relates to your employer’s business, then you are guilty of a class “A” misdemeanor with the same penalties and punishment as the party who wrongly tried to influence your behavior.

First Degree Commercial Bribe Receiving: Penal Law 180.08

Ratcheting the offense to a felony, when the value of the unauthorized gift is north of $1,000.00, and your employer suffers a loss or economic harm beyond a relatively paltry $250.00, you face this more serious class “E” felony and the same sanctions referenced above.

Example and Hypothetical

There are quite a few scenarios that could play out where you violate either side of the law. A rabid fan pays off an employee of Madison Square Garden $1,500.00 for a package of seats to a Knicks or Rangers game that otherwise costs double that amount. Further, even though not allowed, the employee also agrees to take the fan back to the locker room to meet the players after the game and provide him or her with some memorabilia for free. Instead of selling the tickets to another buyer, the employee pockets the cash while MSG loses out on a sale well beyond $250.00, souvenirs that should never have been given out and privileged access to players it normally monitors and disallows. Both sides of this transaction could easily run afoul of the respective felony statutes.

Collateral Consequences and Ramifications

Outside of the obvious - a felony or misdemeanor record and possible incarceration – there are other collateral ramifications of a conviction for any of these offenses. For example, if you hold a professional license as an accountant, attorney, physician, or other position, or you are regulated by FINRA or the FDIC, your career is at risk. Further, a non-citizen will without question endanger his or her legal status now and in the future if convicted of any of these crimes.

Your Defense, Your Case, Your Future

Irrespective of the allegations or whether other White Collar crimes - from Falsifying Business Record and Forgery to Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument and Grand Larceny – are charged in an arrest or indictment, do not underestimate the severity of any bribe related offense even if the alleged scheme never came to fruition. Work with your criminal defense team to set your most viable defense into motion and implement the tactics that can save you not only from imprisonment, but keep your career, family and future intact.

Call our criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at 212.312.7129 or contact us online today

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