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What is the Law on Bribery in Minnesota and What are the Punishments for it?

Bribery is considered a serious offense in the state of Minnesota. Bribery refers to the act of a person offering, giving, or promising to give a reward or a consideration to impact the behavior or acts of another person.

The law on bribery in the state of Minnesota is broadly divided into two types, viz. general bribery and commercial bribery.

Minnesota Bribery Law

General Bribery

Subdivision 1

The law on bribery in Minnesota is covered in Section 609.42 of Chapter 609 of the 2018 Minnesota Statutes. A person will be guilty of indulging in bribery if:

1. Offers or promises to offer an employee or public officer any kind of benefit or reward to which the employee is not legally eligible with the objective of influencing the person’s performance or duties are required by the law or his employment requirements

2. Occupying a public office, receives, or agrees to receive, either directly or indirectly, any kind of reward or consideration upon the agreement that it will have an influence on the discharge of these responsibilities

3. Offers or promises to offer a benefit or reward to a person for being a witness or who is about to become a witness in a case, with the objective of impacting that person’s testimony before the judge or the jury

4. Being a witness or about to become a witness receives or agrees to receive a benefit or consideration with the understanding that his testimony will be biased in favor of the person who is offering the benefit, or that he will not appear himself at the proceeding

5. Accepts a benefit or reward agreeing that he will refrain from revealing sensitive information that can lead to the prosecution of an accused in a criminal act. However, such an agreement is not considered bribery when it is explicitly allowed under a different law.

Minnesota  Bribery Punishments

Punishment for General Bribery

Any person who is found guilty of bribery in Minnesota will be punished with imprisonment not exceeding a period of ten years. He can also be fined for an amount, not more than $20,000. Upon the discretion of the judge or jury, the convict for bribery can be punished with both imprisonment and fine.

Subdivision 2

Forfeiture of Office for a Public Officer

A public officer who is convicted of bribery through the violation of subdivision 1 of Section 609.42 is required to forfeit his public officer’s office. Under the law, he will also be disqualified forever from holding a public office in the state of Minnesota.

Commercial Bribery

Commercial bribery results in damage to a person’s employer/principal or other key stakeholders of the business like customers and employees. The law on commercial bribery in the state of Minnesota is covered in Section 609.86 of Chapter 609 of the state’s statutes. A person will be guilty of indulging in commercial bribery if:

  • Offers a benefit or consideration to any employee, fiduciary, or agent to impact his performance of duties in relation to his employer’s/principal’s business
  • Being an employee or agent receives or agrees to receive from another person any kind of benefit or consideration under the agreement to be influenced in his performance of his duties in relation to his employer’s/principal’s business

Punishment for Commercial Bribery

Any person who is found guilty of commercial bribery in Minnesota will be punished with:

  • Imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years and fine not exceeding $10,000 or both if the bribe received is greater than $500
  • Imprisonment for a period not exceeding ninety days and fine not exceeding $1,000 if the bribe received is $500 or less.

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