Abuse of Public Office & Misuse of Official Information

A public servant commits the offense of abuse of public office when he or she intentionally or knowingly and with the intent to obtain a personal benefit violates a law regarding his or her office or misuses government property, services, personnel, or anything of value, which has come into his or her possession by virtue of his or her office or employment. The word "misuse" means to deal with property contrary to any agreement, any contract, or any law.

A public servant can commit the offense of abuse of public office even if he or she is accomplishing a legitimate public function.

A non-public servant may be convicted of the offense of abuse of public office if he or she aids a public servant in the commission of the offense.

Although certain acts by a public servant may constitute the offense of bribery as well as the offense of abuse of public office, the offense of abuse of public office only requires an intent to obtain a benefit. The offense of bribery requires the acceptance of a benefit in return for an act. The benefit may be any economic gain or benefit. The benefit may also be direct or indirect.

An example of the offense of abuse of public office includes the personal use of a government-owned vehicle.

The offense of abuse of public office is normally punished according to the value of the benefit. If the value of the benefit is less than a certain statutory amount, the offense is normally punished as a misdemeanor. If the value of the benefit exceeds a certain statutory amount, the offense may be punished as a felony.

A public servant commits the offense of misuse of official information if he or she acquires a pecuniary interest in any property that may be affected by information to which he or she has access by virtue of his or her office. The public servant also commits the offense of misuse of official information if he or she discloses the information for a non-governmental purpose. In order to be guilty of this offense, the official information must not have been made public.

The offense of misuse of official information is normally punished as a felony.

In addition to the criminal penalties for the offenses of abuse of public office and of misuse of official information, a public servant may be removed from office as punishment for the offenses.

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