CORE CRIMINAL LAW SUBJECTS: Crimes: Article 134 -- Bribery and Graft

2009 (September Term)

United States v. Contreras, 69 M.J. 120 (bribery and graft are not purely military offenses, where the MCM does not limit the application of those offenses to military members only, nor would anyone otherwise consider them to be purely military offenses despite the necessity of proving and pleading that the conduct was service discrediting or prejudicial to good order and discipline). 



United States v. McCrimmon, 60 MJ 145 (at common law the offense of bribery was the giving of any valuable consideration or benefit to the holder of a public office, or to a person performing a public duty, or the acceptance thereof by such person, with the corrupt intention that he be influenced thereby in the discharge of his legal duty; simply stated, bribery is the corrupt payment or receipt of a private price for official action; the focus of the offense is to punish public corruption, and both the reciprocal acts of giving and receiving the bribe are punishable). 


(bribery is not specifically enumerated in the UCMJ as a criminal offense, but is punishable under Article 134, UCMJ; from the language of the MCM, it is clear that bribery is employed as a generic term to cover two different offenses: (1) giving or offering a bribe, and (2) receiving or soliciting a bribe); two important facets of this offense are that both the giving and receiving of a bribe are equally punishable and that a specific corrupt intent to influence an official action is required). 


(the MCM states the specific intent required to prove bribery by the bribee is the intent to have the accused’s decision or action influenced with respect to a certain matter; the plain words in the MCM require that the bribee act with the intent to have the bribe impact on and actually influence the decision or actions of the bribee; this Court has long recognized the necessity of the intent element to establish the offense of bribery -- that the bribee must receive the money with intent to influence his official action).


(in graft, an intent improperly to influence official action need not be alleged or proved as it must be in bribery; graft involves compensation for services performed in an official matter when no compensation is due; graft contemplates personal advantage or gain in a dishonest transaction in relation to public duties; graft is a lesser included offense of bribery). 


(for an accused to be guilty of bribery, the record of trial must establish that he had the specific intent to have his decision or action influenced with respect to a certain official matter). 


(prosecution for both bribery and a larceny by falsely representing what the bribee intends to do may be problematic when the two offenses are rooted in mutually inconsistent findings).

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