Any Michigan resident facing federal-level criminal charges has every right to ask questions about what to expect as they move through criminal proceedings. Knowledge is power, after all. The more a person knows about the charges and what may come, the better position they will be in to fight. This week, this column will answer three questions commonly asked by those facing federal bribery charges.
Question number one: What is needed to convict in a bribery case?
Generally, in a bribery case, all that is needed to convict is the ability to show an agreement exists between two or more parties in which money is exchanged for something else of value. No written agreement must exist, but there must be proof that an agreement has been made. If a federal official is involved in some way, certain elements do need to be established, however, such as:
- The individual bribed holds a public office
- Proof a bribe has been offered
- The bribe affects an official act or policy
- The ability to establish a connection between a bribe and the act
Question number two: Is there any way to fight a bribery charge if it goes to trial?
The short answer here is yes. A criminal charge is just that, a charge, an accusation. Anyone facing bribery charges has the right to the presumption of innocence until — and only if — proven guilty. The burden of proof lies with the prosecuting attorney. The defense can fight by questioning evidence and poking holes in the prosecution’s case.
Question number three: Is going to trial inevitable?
No. In fact, many federal cases do not go to trial. Depending on the details of the bribery case, it may be possible to get charges dismissed or enter a plea agreement before the issue goes to court. An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist Michigan residents in figuring out the best way to address their federal bribery charges and help them fight for the best possible outcome.