Misuse of Public Office
The Statute governing Misuse of Office or Official Misconduct in New Jersey is NJSA 2C:30-2, which reads in pertinent part:2C:30-2. Official Misconduct
A public servant is guilty of official misconduct when, with purpose to obtain a benefit for himself or another or to injure or to deprive another of a benefit:
- He commits an act relating to his office but constituting an unauthorized exercise of his official functions, knowing that such act is unauthorized or he is committing such act in an unauthorized manner.
- He knowingly refrains from performing a duty which is imposed upon him by law or is clearly inherent in the nature of his office.
Official misconduct is a crime of the second degree. If the benefit obtained or sought to be obtained, or of which another is deprived or sought to be deprived, is of a value of $200.00 or less, the offense of official misconduct is a crime of the third degree.Understanding New Jersey’s Official Misconduct Law
Under New Jersey Official Misconduct law, only a public servant can be guilty of misconduct in office.
A public servant includes any officer or employee of government including legislators and judges as well as any person participating as a juror, advisor, consultant or otherwise, in performing a government function, but does not include a witness.
The test is whether the person is performing a government function.
- A public servant may be convicted of official misconduct even if at the time of the offense he or she had been suspended from active duty.
- A person may be guilty of the crime of official misconduct as an accomplice even though that person is not a public servant.
Under New Jersey Official Misconduct law the public servant’s action or omission must be coupled with a purpose to obtain a benefit for himself or another or a purpose to injure another or deprive another of a benefit.Corrupt Purpose Can Be of Two Types
First, defendant’s purpose is to obtain a benefit for her or another.
Second, public servant seeks to injure some person or deprive them of a gain or advantage – by being denied or impeded in the exercise of some right or privilege.
There must be proof that the public servant’s act was unauthorized or committed in an unauthorized manner.
Also, there must be proof that the public servant knew that the act was unauthorized or knew that she acted in an unauthorized manner.
This law does not extend to purely private wrongdoing by one who happens to be a public servant.
Under New Jersey’s Official Misconduct law the State must prove the following five elements:
- First, defendant was a public servant.
- Second, defendant acted with purpose to gain a benefit or to injure or deprive another of a benefit.
- Third, the act committed related to the public servant’s office.
- Fourth, the act must be unauthorized.
- Fifth, defendant knew that the act was unauthorized.
If defendant did not know that the act was unauthorized ignorance may very well serve as a viable defense.
Official misconduct is also committed by a public servant who knowingly refrains from performing a duty which is imposed upon him by law or is clearly inherent in the nature of his office.
Severe drug addiction and alcoholism are not a defense to a charge of misconduct in office by a police officer.
There is a seven year statute of limitation for an official misconduct prosecution.Penalties for Official Misconduct
Official misconduct is a crime of the second degree, however, it may be reduced to third degree if the benefit obtained or sought or of which another is deprived is of a value of $200.00 or less.
If the purpose is to injure another it will be a crime of the second degree no matter how slight the injury.
New Jersey treats Official Misconduct very seriously. Recent law has made Second Degree Official Misconduct subject to a period of parole ineligibility. Defendants facing conviction under this statute must serve a period of time in prison equal to up to one half of the sentence before being eligible for parole. This would mean that a defendant facing a ten year prison sentence must serve every day of five years in prison before they would be eligible for parole.Choosing the Right Lawyer for Your White Collar Criminal Case in New Jersey
Having the right legal team on your side is critical in any situation. The lawyers at The moriarty Law Firm have been handling white collar criminal defense in New Jersey for decades. When you need the most competent legal help, look no further than the Moriarty family and their accomplished team of trial lawyers. We know that your freedom is the most important thing in the world to you and your family. We FIGHT for your freedom. Call us today to set up your free initial consultation at (732) 842-7773. We can also be reached via email.
Call (732) 842-7773 to speak with one of the Moriartys 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to discuss your charges or you can contact us by e-mail to schedule a free initial consultation.