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Official Misconduct

Official misconduct in New York can be very tempting. Being a public official is a very difficult job. On one hand you need to maintain a professional distance from the public, accomplish your respective agency goals, and also maintain your personal integrity, all the while being paid very little in comparison to your privately employed counterparts. Working for the State of New York, New York City or another local government can often be frustrating, particularly when your department is subjected to arbitrary budget restrictions, cuts, or political infighting.

No public official wants to lose their reputation and the trust of the citizenry. If you have been accused of official misconduct call our New York Criminal Defense attorneys today. We can help you beat your charges and give you the best possible chance to keep your job, and reputation intact.

Despite all of these circumstances and no matter how appealing it may seem, it is always inadvisable to use a position of power in the government to divert resources to your own interests, or use authority to benefit yourself financially, or to allow your friends and family to sidestep regulations and laws. Actions of that sort are punishable by the crime of official misconduct. The crime official misconduct is a class A misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of up to 1 year in jail, a fine of $1,000, or twice the amount gained from the crime may be imposed.

Government officials are guilty of official misconduct when intending to get some benefit or deprive someone else of a benefit:

  1. He or she acts in their official function in a way that is not permitted under their office, and knows that act is not permitted; or
  2. He or she knows that they have a duty to act in a certain way which is required by the law or is obvious from the nature of his office, yet refuses to act anyway.

What constitutes official misconduct? Helping out mom with that traffic ticket? Assessing your friend’s home’s value at a lower rate than you would otherwise to reduce his property taxes? Giving your wife a job at your agency even though she isn’t the best qualified employee?

Here is an example that may help clear up some confusion. Bart the burglar breaks in to Valerie’s house while she is sleeping. He steals her jewelry and gets away without waking her up. After Valerie wakes up she sees her smashed window and calls the police. Officer Smith knows that Valerie is the deputy mayor’s daughter. He rounds up the usual suspects for questioning. Under questioning Bart confesses. It turns out that Bart is Police Chief Wiggum’s cousin. Once the crime is brought to the Chief’s attention the Chief decides it would be best to brush it under the rug and pretend the burglary never happened.

The police recovered Valerie’s jewelry and put it in the property room locker. Police Chief Wiggum directs Officer Smith to return Valerie’s jewels and for Bart to be released from custody, and not charged with anything. Officer Smith knows that these instructions may be illegal and definitely exceed the Chief's authority. Officer Smith call internal affairs to report the Chief, but, after nothing is done Smith returns the goods and allows Bart to walk free.

The Inspector General conducts their own investigation and arrests Police Chief Wiggum for official misconduct. Chief Wiggum is found guilty, loses his job, and his standing in the community. He is sentenced to jail for 6 months where he is harangued by prison inmates that he helped put behind bars.

No public official wants to lose their reputation and the trust of the citizenry. If you have been accused of official misconduct call our New York Criminal Defense lawyers today. We can help you get your charges reduced and give you the best possible chance to keep your job, and reputation intact.

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