Question: What is bribery?

Answer: Bribery is the law where criminal rules are used to deal with people attempting to buy influence from public officials or other decision makers. It’s a pretty broad scope. It is designed to include providing cash, assets, services favors—anything of value, either directly or indirectly, in order to hide the nature of the transaction to a public official or someone else who may have power over an issue. The laws are designed to punish both the person doing the bribing and the person receiving the bribe.

There are both federal and state laws that cover bribery. Federal law is generally found in 18 U.S.C. Chapter 11, generally it’s 946.10 in Wisconsin. There’s a few different classifications. Generally speaking it’s a felony. In Wisconsin, it’s either a Class H felony or a slightly lower Class I felony that you’re dealing with. Either the public official or the person attempting to bribe the public official, generally speaking that is going to be a felony.

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