Official Misconduct (New York Penal Law 195.00): Crime, Punishment and Your Criminal Defense

Not to be mistaken with Rewarding Official Misconduct (New York Penal Law 200.20), Official Misconduct (New York Penal Law 195.00), is a unique crime prosecuted in New York associated with public servants (defined below). Official Misconduct occurs as follows:

When a public servant has the intent to obtain a benefit or deprive another person of a benefit, he:

1. Commits a particular act related to his office that is an unauthorized exercise of his official functions; or

2. Knowingly refrains from performing a duty which is imposed upon him by law or is clearly inherent in the nature of his office.

An “A” misdemeanor, Official Misconduct is punishable by up to one year in a county or city jail such as Rikers.

Defined under New York Penal Law 10.00(15), a “public servant” includes any public officer or employee of the state of New York.

It is very important to note that for a person to be guilty of this offense under subsection (1), that person must fulfill two prongs. That is, the act must be related to his office AND the act must be an official function. Although directly addressing the charge of Bribe Receiving and subsequently the offense of Official Misconduct, the Court of Appeals (New York’s highest court) upheld the Appellate Division’s decision that a corrections officer could not be guilty of either charge where he received payments for fixing traffic tickets. In that matter the Appellate Division found that the, “[t]he action taken by defendant, corrupt or not, was completely unrelated to his position, and not such as would be within the scope of his real or apparent authority.” Clearly, fixing traffic tickets has no relation to the office of or the official functions of a corrections officer. See People v. Rossi 50 N.Y.2d 813 (1980). If this same offense was perpetrated by a traffic cop, the outcome would likely have been very different.

Like any other criminal offense, the legal language of the statutes and associated legal decisions must be reviewed and analyzed to see whether the accused’s actions falls with in the parameters and prescribed conduct of the crime.

For further information on the crimes of Rewarding Official Misconduct and Bribe Receiving, please follow the respective links or review the New York Criminal Law Blog at NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com.

Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors.

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