Bribery and Kickbacks Criminal Defense

The federal government awards contracts to public companies for a variety of military and non-military services. These contracts may be for the delivery of a missile guidance system, provision of overseas security support, or general cleaning services. These contracts can be worth millions, if not billions, of dollars and some government contractors are willing to use kickbacks or bribery to secure them. These are federal offense that may involve conspiracy and carry hefty fines and prison sentences.

Kickbacks and Bribery

Kickbacks are when a contractor gives money, fee, commission, credit, gift, gratuity, job or anything else of value to someone in the government, or connected with the government, to obtain a contract or to receive information that will help them obtain the contract. This can include a subcontractor who is tasked with overseeing the bidding and selection process. Kickbacks may involve conspiracies since multiple parties can be involved, such as an investor, contractor and subcontractor, passing along funds or information to secure the contract. Since you must report to the government if you receive funds over $10,000, kickbacks may be paid through installments of less than this amount to avoid detection.

Bribery is similar to kickbacks in that it involves the exchange of something of value for preferential treatment. The difference is that the person receiving the value is a politician or someone else who can facilitate the process of acquiring the contract rather than a government employee or subcontractor. The result is the same, the illegal trade of value in exchange for a government contract.


When we work with someone who has been charged with providing kickbacks, bribery or conspiracy to commit either, we start with defenses that will demonstrate lack of guilt. These are:

  1. This behavior is the normal course of business and other companies have done this in the past. There was no criminal intent as this is simply how business is done.  
  2. Our client may have offered someone a job, but they received no undue benefit from this offer. They were not given non-public information and still had to deliver the same high quality service in order to secure the government contract.
  3. The client made a legal offer of employment but the government employee failed to take the appropriate steps with the human resource department, which is neither the client’s fault nor their responsibility.

We work with our client and the prosecutor to demonstrate that there was no criminal intent and that all actions were taken in good faith. Counsel will also work with experts in government contracts and forensic accountants to show that the intended or actual financial loss is not as high as the government believes that it is.  The purpose of working with these experts is to lower your potential prison or probation sentence.

Mitigation of Potential Penalties

Sometimes our clients are guilty of paying kickbacks or bribery, but we still aggressively defend them by negotiating preferential terms. In these situations we may argue that yes, you conspired to be awarded a government contract but you were unsuccessful and received no monetary benefit so you do not deserve a prison sentence. If you did receive illicit funds, we will advise you to make restitution so that the person or government is now “whole,” which should reduce the consequences of your actions. Your guilt does not mean that you deserve to go to prison and we will do everything in our power to negotiate the best possible plea.

Hire an Expert Attorney

If you are charged with providing kickbacks, committing bribery, or conspiracy to do either, contact an attorney who has defended clients against these charges in federal court. We have served many clients who faced these same charges and have the skills and experience to aggressively represent you as well.