Prosecution of Government Officials
Federal and state prosecutors are aggressively pursuing both elected officials and government employees. Many of these prosecutions are investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by the Public Integrity Section at “Main Justice” or a local U.S. Attorney’s office.
When people in politics discover or suspect that they may be a subject (or even a witness) in one of these Department of Justice investigations, acting swiftly and appropriately is key. The worst thing that an elected official or government employee can do is try to handle the problem alone, without competent legal counsel. Instead, seeking legal counsel early can make all the difference in these cases.
At Harvey & Binnall, our white collar lawyers have experience analyzing and trying cases in jurisdictions across the country. We take pride in working quickly and efficiently to help our clients develop and implement a winning strategy to confront these investigations and prosecutions.
Criminal Investigations Against Public Officials
The government aggressively pursues criminal investigations that involve public officials. These cases tend to be politically appealing and receive favorable public opinion. While the aggressive prosecution of bribery and honest services fraud offenses is clearly devastating to elected officials, it is often more destructive to the business owners, donors, friends, associates and aids also targeted in these cases.
Harvey & Binnall, PLLC is an experienced white-collar defense firm that handles high-stakes bribery cases in the politically charged Virginia-Maryland-DC region and through the country. We look at the bigger picture and consider the both the long-term and the immediate consequences of our legal strategies.
Our attorneys recommend that anyone who is questioned about bribery seek immediate defense counsel. Just being charged with these crimes can ruin a defendant’s career, reputation and financial health. At Harvey & Binnall, PLLC , we pursue resolution that prevents charges from being filed. In addition, an Alexandria white-collar defense lawyer at our firm will work to prevent damaging evidence from reaching the prosecution. A simple statement, electronic communication or document might give the prosecution the smoking gun. And yet, the defendant waives the rights against self-incrimination by consenting to a search or voluntarily answering questions. Should the case move forward, our team holds the prosecution to its burden of proving its case.
What is Bribery?
Bribery occurs when something of value is solicited, accepted or transferred in order to influence official action. The term quid pro quo, or “this for that,” describes the nature of the transaction. The bribe may be in the form of cash, gifts, property, votes, club memberships, personal favors or business dealings to a government official in exchange for a government contract, special privilege, a favorable judicial outcome or sought-after legislative or executive action. The bribed official may be a judge, prosecutor, police officer, legislator, local councilperson, other elected official, political candidate, government agent, foreign official or other person entrusted with public authority.
The exchange does not need to actually occur in order to satisfy the quid pro quo element. Soliciting or offering a bribe is enough to rise to criminal liability. However, the government must prove that the defendant intended to influence an official act.
What is Honest Services Fraud?
Honest services fraud is defined as a scheme to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services, which the U.S. Supreme Court limited to bribes, kickbacks and conflicts of interests. Public officials are held to a higher burden and may be charged with honest services fraud for most conduct that violates ethics standards. Public sector cases primarily involve bribery and nondisclosure of conflict of interest that results in the public official’s personal gain. Private-sector claims often involve fraud committed by fiduciaries against the individual or entity for which the fiduciaries owed duties. As with bribery, the government must show intent.
Protect Your Rights in a Bribery or Honest Services Fraud Investigation
Do not delay in retaining counsel if you are a witness in or a target of a bribery or honest services fraud investigation. An Alexandria white-collar defense lawyer at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC can guide you through an investigation and advocate for your rights.