California Corruption Laws & Charges + Penalities & Statute Of Limitations

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Corruption in the state of California is defined as a breach of public trust, or an abuse of a government position by federal, state or local officials, as well as any accomplices in the private sector.

Corruption can include the providing of money or gifts to or from a public official in the course of the duties of that person in an official capacity. It also could involve pay offs or bribes from a private sector organization or individual to a public sector employee or official to receive preferential treatment. This sort of transaction is quite common when the head of a government department provides preferential treatment to a private contractor, in exchange for money or gifts.

Bribery and corruption laws in the state of California are quite complex, involving many different laws.

  • Bribery and corruption of executive and ministerial officers, as well as public workers

  • Bribery and corruption of legislative officers in California

  • Bribery and corruption of supervisors and public corporations

  • Bribery and corruption of judicial officers and jurors

  • Bribery and corruption  of witnesses

Corruption laws also play a very complex role in elections. Public officials can easily break the law during election season regarding giving preferential treatment under the law to large money donors.

CA Laws and Penalties

Anyone who is convicted of corruption in California could have to do up to 20 years in prison. Fines usually run in the tens of thousands of dollars, and restitution may have to be paid as well. Restitution could be the amount of money or products that changed hands.

Of course, if you are a public official and are convicted of corruption, you will be forced to surrender your office. You also could lose most or all of your retirement benefits or pension from the government.

CA Corruption Defenses

To be convicted on the one of many corruption laws in the US or in California, it must be proved that you either bribed someone or accepted bribes. This means that if you are accused of corruption or bribery but you did not actually did not have corrupt intent, you can’t be convicted. The issue of intent is extremely important in corruption and bribery cases.

With a good defense lawyer, you may be able to prove that you did not have any corrupt intent. It is possible for something to be perceived as ‘corruption’ when there is an innocent explanation involved.

Let’s say that you are a public official in charge of a jail system in California. You are personal friends with a salesman from a private vendor that serves the jail system. Your friend has serious financial issues and you provide him with a personal loan. In the business of your official capacities, he secures a large contract through your department. Although this could have the appearance of corruption and bribery, your lawyer can show that your friendship did not influence the decision making process on the contract. If that is the case, you are not guilty of corruption.

That said, it is extremely important as a public official or government employee to be extremely careful in dealing with personal friends or family in the conduct of your official duties. It is easy for an innocent action to be construed as corruption, and you must then go to the time and expense to clear your name.

CA Statute of Limitations

In California, there is a statute of limitations for many crimes. If the offense may be punished by eight or more years in prison, the statute is six years. For other offenses of a lesser time in prison, the statute is three years. There is no statute of limitations for murder or other offenses punishable with life in prison or a death sentence. For many corruption charges, the statute of limitations is six years.

CA Corruption Cases

Geoffrey Nathan, Esq.

About Geoffrey Nathan, Esq.

Geoffrey G Nathan is a top federal crimes lawyer and Chief Editor of He is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1988, admitted to practice in both Federal and State courts. If you have questions about your federal case he can help by calling 877.472.5775.