What is the Law on Bribery in West Virginia and What are the Punishments for it?
Corruption is one of the great social evils, with bribery playing a major role. Bribery involves paying a bribe, which may be a gift, or money offered to influence someone’s decision or action. A public servant, judicial officer, juror, or any government officer who can take a decision may be influenced to take a decision in favor of someone. When that person accepts money or a gift for it, it is termed as bribery and is an offense under the penal code in all states.
Bribery Law in West Virginia and the Punishment for it
The West Virginia Code Chapter 61 Article 5A-3, and 5-4 deals with bribery and related offenses, and the punishment for the offense.
Bribery in the law is defined as directly or indirectly giving or attempting to give a gift, gratuity, money, testimonial, or valuable thing to an officer of the executive, legislative, judicial, or ministerial office, or a member of the legislature to influence the person to perform duties, vote, give an opinion, deliver a judgment, withhold a vote. Bribery is treated as a felony under the West Virginia Code and will lead to imprisonment for a period of one to ten years in prison and shall also be disqualified from holding any office or position of trust in the state.
Any officer who accepts a bribe to delay serving legal process or failing to serve legal process shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction shall be punished by imprisonment for a maximum of six months and a fine of up to $100.
Bribing a commissioner of the court, auditor, justice of the peace, arbitrator, umpire, juror, or any county official who is elected or unelected, directly or indirectly is an offense. The person receiving the bribe is also guilty of the offense. The offense happens when an attempt is made to influence the public servant’s action or decision. Both the bribe taker and the bribe giver are guilty of a felony. A conviction would lead to a punishment of imprisonment for a period of one to ten years, with a fine of not more $5,000.
Apart from the general provision in the law related to bribery, the law also defines bribery in official and political matters. This is defined as an act where a person offers, confers, agrees to confer, solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept directly or indirectly a pecuniary benefit in return for an official action as a party official or a public servant. Anyone violating this law and bribing a public servant is guilty of a felony. If convicted, it would lead to imprisonment for one to ten years with a fine of up to $50,000. They shall also be forever disqualified from holding any office of government in this state.
An unlawful reward in the form of pecuniary benefit for a past action or behavior is a misdemeanor under the West Virginia code. A conviction would lead to imprisonment for between 3 months and a year with a fine of up to $5,000.
Giving gifts to government servants by an interested party is prohibited under the law. This is a misdemeanor under the law and is punishable on conviction by imprisonment for three months to one year, and a fine or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
The law in West Virginia with respect to bribery is very comprehensive, and includes various acts of bribery, and prescribes tough punishment for the same. A special provision is even made for bribery in political and official matters in the West Virginia code.