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Former Assistant District Attorney
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney

The difference between bribery and extortion

by | Feb 18, 2020 | Federal Crimes

When many people think about bribery and extortion, they may think these offenses are the same thing. However, there are a few important differences between these charges and it is important to understand the difference. 

FindLaw says that bribery occurs when people try to influence another person’s actions. Someone might offer money to another person or promise to provide extra privileges or services. Someone might also bribe people with favorable treatment. When the federal government looks into bribery cases, there are a few factors people take into consideration. People usually consider the nature of the bribe. In federal cases, people generally promise to provide something valuable if the other person behaves in a specific way. Additionally, federal officials have to demonstrate that a person intended to influence someone else to achieve a certain outcome. 

It is important to remember that when someone makes a bribe, he or she offers something positive to the other person. The person who accepts the bribe can typically expect some type of gain. This is a key difference between bribery and extortion. 

When people commit extortion, there is usually some desired outcome they want to achieve. FindLaw says that the methods to achieve this outcome are different from those someone would use to bribe a person. Extortion typically involves negative compensation. Someone might threaten to harm a person if he or she does not take a certain action. Additionally, people might say they will expose private information if someone does not do what they want. Making people pay protection money to prevent vandalism can be another form of extortion. This means that when someone experiences extortion, they comply with someone else’s demands because they do not want to experience backlash. They usually do not gain anything positive, unlike in bribery.