Bribery is a type of crime that involves an exchange of something of value to try to change the course of action of someone in a position of authority, such as a government official or a business executive. When someone accepts a bribe, it removes his or her objectivity in making decisions. These decisions are then based solely on the interests of the party who offered the bribe. For instance, if the coach of a baseball team gives the umpire an expensive bottle of liquor before a game, it might sway the umpire to favor that team to win. This action is therefore considered illegal.

Types of Bribes

One common misconception is that bribes always involve money. In fact, bribes can include the exchange of anything of worth to the recipient, including cars, real estate, promotions, and even personal favors, sexual favors, promises, or discounts on goods or services. Moreover, bribery can occur in a wide variety of professions. Government employees are highly scrutinized because their behaviors affect the general public. But individuals in the private sector can also engage in bribery. Company executives, lawyers, bank employees, and referees are just a few professionals that may be found guilty of accepting bribes.

Affected Individuals

Bribery affects more than just the individuals involved in giving and receiving a bribe. It is a form of corruption which affects the general public, reducing their ability to put faith and trust in institutions such as banks, companies, and government. In addition, it affects all those who might have experienced a different outcome without the bribe. For instance, if a public official is bribed to hire someone without giving a fair chance to all applicants for the job, his or her actions affect all the applicants. In the case of sporting events, fans cheering for or placing monetary bets on their team stand to lose unfairly. Bribery is often directly linked to poverty; corrupt exchanges between companies, officials, or wealthy individuals effectively robs the rest of the community of resources and livelihoods.


The penalty for bribing can vary according to the severity and nature of the bribe. Issuing a bribe or accepting a bribe can result in a penalty of a fine to a few years in prison. The bribe doesn’t have to be damaging to the public to be considered a criminal offence. In some cases, bribes aren’t offered along with a suggestion to take a certain course of action. In addition, a bribe that is solicited by someone in a position of authority can also result in criminal charges for the issuer of the bribe, even if he or she faces pressure to provide the bribe. In the United States, bribery is viewed as a serious crime. Individuals and companies are held accountable for the transactions they complete in other countries.

Quick Summary

Bribery is a type of crime that involves offering something of value to a person in a position of authority in exchange for a suggested course of action. Although bribes often involve money, they can also include favors, gifts, and influence.