What is Bribery?

Legal Definition
Bribery is the act of giving money, goods or other forms of recompense to a recipient in exchange for an alteration of their behavior (to the benefit/interest of the giver) that the recipient would otherwise not alter. Bribery is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.

Gifts of money or other items of value which are otherwise available to everyone on an equivalent basis, and not for dishonest purposes, is not bribery. Offering a discount or a refund to all purchasers is a legal rebate and is not bribery. For example, it is legal for an employee of a Public Utilities Commission involved in electric rate regulation to accept a rebate on electric service that reduces their cost for electricity, when the rebate is available to other residential electric customers. If the rebate was done to influence them to look favorably on the electric utility's rate increase applications, however, that would be bribery, and unlawful.

The bribe is the gift bestowed to influence the recipient's conduct. It may be money, goods, rights in action, property, preferment, privilege, emolument, objects of value, advantage, or merely a promise to induce or influence the action, vote, or influence of a person in an official or public capacity.

In economics, the bribe has been described as rent. Bribery in bureaucracy has been viewed as a reason for the higher cost of production of goods and services.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
Corrupt solicitation, acceptance, or transfer of value in exchange for official action.
Overview
Bribery refers to the offering, giving, soliciting, or receiving of any item of value as a means of influencing the actions of an individual holding a public or legal duty. This type of action results in matters that should be handled objectively being handled in a manner best suiting the private interests of the decision maker. Bribery constitutes a crime and both the offeror and the recipient can be criminally charged.

Proof of bribery requires demonstrating a “quid pro quo” relationship in which the recipient directly alters behavior in exchange for the gift. Because the relationship does not occur directly enough, campaign donations from corporations or individuals to political candidates do not constitute bribery. Another element of proving bribery includes proving intent to influence the discharging of another’s official duties. Some statutes also require proof that both parties understand and agree to the arrangement. Attempts to bribe exist at common law and under the Model Penal Code, and often, the punishment for attempted bribery and completed bribery are identical. Solicitation of a bribe also constitutes a crime and is completed regardless of whether the solicitation results in the receipt of a valuable gift. Economists consider bribery to negatively impact economic growth because it encouraged rent seeking behavior. Rent seeking behavior refers to an individual’s or corporation’s attempt to illicitly influence the open market in order to provide that individual or corporation with a disproportionate amount of wealth. Such an environment results in a sub-optimal allocation of resources, which results in depressed economic growth.

Violators may be prosecuted under federal statute 18 U.S.C. 201 - Bribery.

See White-collar crime.
Legal Definition
Crim. law. The receiving or offering any undue reward by or to any person whomsoever, whose ordinary profession or business relates to the administration of public justice, in order to influence his behavior in office, and to incline him to act contrary to his duty and the known rules of honesty and integrity. 3 Inst. 149; 1 Hawk. P. C. 67, s. 2 4 Bl. Com. 139; 1 Russ. Cr. 156.

2. The term bribery extends now further, and includes the offence of giving a bribe to many other officers. The offence of the giver and of the receiver of the bribe has the same name. For the sake of distinction, that of the former, viz : the briber, might be properly denominated active. bribery; while that of the latter, viz : the person bribed, might be called passive bribery.

3. Bribery at elections for members of parliament, has always been a crime at common law, and punishable by indictment or information. It still remains so in England notwithstanding the stat. 24 Geo. H. c. 14 3 Burr. 1340, 1589. To constitute the offence, it is not necessary that the person bribed should, in fact, vote as solicited to do 3 Burr. 1236; or even that he should have a right to vote at all both are entirely immaterial. 3 Bur. 1590-1.

4. An attempt to bribe, though unsuccessful, has been holden to be criminal, and the offender may be indicted. 2 Dall. 384; 4 Burr. 2500 3 Inst. 147; 2 Campb. R. 229; 2 Wash. 88; 1 Virg. Cas. 138; 2 Virg. Cas. 460.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
In criminal law. The receiving or offering any undue reward by or to any person whomsoever, whose ordinary profession or business relates to the administration of public justice, in order to influence his behavior in office, and to incline him to act contrary to his duty and the known rules of honesty and integrity. Hall v. Marshall, 80 Ky. 552; Walsh v. People, 65 111. 65, 16 Ain. Rep. 569; Com. v. Murray, 135 Mass. 530; Hutchinson v. State, 36 Tex. 294.

The term "bribery" now extends further, and includes the offence of giving a bribe to many other classes of officers; it applies both to the actor and receiver, and extends to voters, cabinet ministers, legislators, sheriffs, and other classes. 2 Whart. Crim. Law, § 1858.

The offence of taking any undue reward by a judge, juror or other person concerned in the administration of justice or by a public officer, to influence his behavior in his office. 4 Bl. Comm. 139, and note. Bribery is the giving or receiving any undue reward to influence the behavior of the person receiving such reward in the discharge of his duty, in any office of government or of justice. Code Ga. 1882, § 4469.

The crime of offering any undue reward or remuneration to any public officer of the crown, or other person entrusted with a public duty, with a view to influence his behavior in the discharge of his duty. The inking such reward is as much bribery as the offering it. It also sometimes signifies the taking or giving a reward for public office. The offence is not confined, as some have supposed, to judicial officers. Brown.
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The crime of giving or offering a bribe. See 57 Am. St. Rep. 847.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary