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What are public corruption charges, and what are some defenses?

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2023 | Federal Criminal Defense

When someone works for the government or holds a public position, they’re expected to act with honesty and integrity – not abuse their position or power for their own personal benefit. When they fail, the potential harm to the public trust and the way the government functions is extreme, which is why public corruption charges are taken so seriously.

Public corruption charges can arise from numerous abuses of power and involve accusations of bribery, theft of public funds, nepotism and influence peddling (among other things) – but an untrue accusation can also unnecessarily tarnish reputation and damage careers.

How can someone defend against these kinds of charges?

Prosecutors can be very aggressive about public corruption charges, and that can put their targets on the defensive. However, that’s when it’s most important to stay calm and look at all possible defenses. These may include:

  • A lack of intent: Sometimes public officials and government workers are caught up in other people’s schemes through no fault of their own. If a defendant was tricked by an intermediary, that may be a valid defense.
  • Absence of benefit: In certain cases, especially those involving bribery, it may be effective to show that there was no great value to the alleged bribe. It may also be possible to show that there was no explicit exchange of favors, despite the prosecution’s theories.
  • Selective prosecution: Prosecutors are only human, so they may choose to see a public official’s lawful actions through a jaundiced eye due to personal biases or even political reasons.

If you’re facing allegations of public corruption, it’s always prudent to exercise your right to remain silent and decline to discuss the situation with the media or anybody else until you’ve had time to find appropriate legal guidance and explore your options.