Malfeasance in Office

May 31st, 2022

Malfeasance in Office

In the last six months, we have experienced increased calls regarding malfeasance in office. Most people charged with malfeasance are unsure what it even means. The assumption is malfeasance is a bribe or illegally gained benefit based on their current position. However, the definition is far broader. In Louisiana, malfeasance is committed by a public officer or public employee when they do one of three things:

  1. When the employee intentionally refuses or fails to perform any duty lawfully required of them based on their employment;
  2. When the employee intentionally performs their duty or job unlawfully;
  3. When the employee knowingly permits any other public officer or public employee under his authority to intentionally refuse or fail to perform a lawful duty required by him.


What conduct justifies an arrest for malfeasance in office?

The legislature defined malfeasance as when an employee or officer cannot complete their job duty because of their actions. The liability extends to a supervisor if they allow an employee not to perform their duty. 


What constitutes malfeasance in office?

This wide net is perhaps what makes the crime of malfeasance in office confusing. The prosecution bears a high burden in these cases. The state must prove deliberate conduct on behalf of an employee or a person in a supervisory position that prevented the performance of their duties. Keep in mind that the state does bear the burden of proving every element of malfeasance beyond a reasonable doubt. All too often, an employee does not realize the potential consequences of neglecting their duties. 


Examples of malfeasance in office

This statute is broad and includes any intentional neglect of the duties of an official of a public employee or their supervisor in conducting their assigned task. Situations giving rise to malfeasance are as diverse. Malfeasance can arise from an officer supplying illegal contraband to an incarcerated individual, a public official not doing their job or being negligent in their job duties, sexual misconduct between a public official and somebody who reports to them, or a judge accepting a bribe. This statute extends to every person who intentionally neglects the duties entrusted to them by the public. 


What are the penalties for malfeasance of office?

Anyone convicted of malfeasance of office will have a felony conviction on their record. The sentencing range is up to 5 years in prison or up to a $5,000.00 fine. You could also be required to pay any lost money the state suffered due to the offense.

If you or someone you know has a question about malfeasance in office and wants to discuss defenses, do not hesitate to contact the law office of Larrion L. Hillman at 318-549-9810. Larrion Hillman practices criminal defense in Caddo Parish, Bossier Parish, Shreveport, and Bossier City, Louisiana. Remember, keep calm and let Hillman handle it.

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