A Simple Guide To Malfeasance in Office in Louisiana
Malfeasance in office or official misconduct is considered a serious crime in Louisiana. It is committed when a public official or employee, in that capacity, performs an unlawful act which affects the performance of his/ her official duties. Because the order of the society and welfare of the people is entrusted to the public officials and employees, it is but only right to sanction them when their acts prejudice the performance of their official functions.
Most people are not well acquainted with this crime. This ignorance comes with drastic consequences. Due to a lack of sufficient knowledge about malfeasance in office, public officers and employees are convicted and are made to face serious repercussions that they could have easily avoided if only they have knowledge of what this crime is all about. To avoid this kind of situation, here are some of the important things you should know about malfeasance in office.
What Is Malfeasance In Office?
Malfeasance In Office Explained
A felony is comprised of a high level of crimes compared to those which are considered as mere misdemeanors. A crime of this classification also carries with its heavier penalties and harsher punishments. Also, a penalty for a crime considered as a felony may come with hard labor. It means that rather than being sentenced to the parish jail, the individual shall be confined at the Department of Corrections.
Malfeasance in office may be committed by any public employee or officer. A public officer or employee refers to a person holding a public office created by virtue of the constitution or the laws of the State through an appointment or election.
The crime of malfeasance in office may be committed in three ways:
- When a public employee or officer intentionally and knowingly fails to perform the duties required as provided in his/ her job description
- When the public officer or employee carries out his duty in an unlawful manner
- Finally, the third way of committing this crime is when a person in-charge of a public officer or employee permits his subordinate to fail or refuse to execute his/ her duty
Thus, whenever an employee or officer is unable to complete a task or project included in his/ her job description due to his/ her deliberate action, the crime of malfeasance in office is committed.
This crime is committed not only by the public officer or employee who intentionally fails to perform his/ her duties or performs the same in an unlawful manner, but it is also committed by a person who permits an employee under his/ her supervision and authority to commit the said offense.
When does a person become liable for malfeasance in office?
In order for a person to be held liable for committing the crime of malfeasance in office, the facts surrounding each case must be determined and examined as the circumstances in malfeasance cases are never the same. The burden of proof to show that the public officer or employee failed to do or is doing something he/ she should not do or permitting another to do the same rests upon the prosecutor. The latter has the responsibility to prove that the official or employee has a duty made known to him/ her which he/she nonetheless violated.
What is the penalty for committing malfeasance in office?
A person found guilty of the crime of malfeasance in office shall be imposed with a penalty involving imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, with or without hard labor, or be required to pay a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, or both.
Aside from imprisonment or fine, if the State suffered loss because of the offense, a person convicted of malfeasance in office may also be enjoined to pay restitution for such loss. Furthermore, the offender is also held liable to pay legal interest to the restituted amount. The calculation of the interest will be based on the provisions provided by the Louisiana statute.
Punishment for committing malfeasance in the office goes beyond imprisonment, payment of fines and restitution rates. A conviction for this crime may end the offender’s career in government organizations and institutions. Most government offices would require an untainted record from its employees. Being convicted of this crime can spoil your record, thus leaving you with no chance to be employed again in a public office.
If malfeasance in office is committee without intent, the court, in its discretion, may give a favorable decision that does not involve serving time by the public officer or employee.
An Example Of Malfeasance In Office:
An example of malfeasance in office is when a law enforcement officer or any employee of the Department of Safety and Corrections or any correctional facility engages in any sexual conduct with a person under their supervision. A person who commits this shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years, with hard labor or a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars, or both.
Other examples of malfeasance in office include:
- a judge or other public official accepting a bribe
- a public official being negligent in job duties
- sexual conduct between a public official and an individual under the official’s direct supervision
What is the defense for malfeasance in office?
A public officer or employee charged with malfeasance in the office does not all end up serving time in jail or pay heavy fines. Every case is different. The prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that malfeasance in office happened. There may be flaws in their evidence in the way of audio and video evidence, witness testimony, and prior statements.
Getting the best result for this charge is possible when you have a competent lawyer with ample experience defending similar cases by your side. Employing such a malfeasance lawyer is the only way for you to mitigate and extinguish the consequences carried by conviction for malfeasance in office. A good criminal defense attorney should have experience with such cases.
Contact the Barkemeyer Law Firm for help and if you have questions about malfeasance in office in Louisiana.