Official Misconduct in Indiana
Official misconduct in Indiana is a criminal offense committed by a public servant or government official who abuses their position or authority for personal gain or to harm another person. Among other scenarios, official misconduct could occur when a public servant uses their position to secure personal benefits or favors or when a public servant accepts a kickback in exchange for performing official duties. Furthermore, official misconduct is taken very seriously in Indiana. If convicted, the offender would not be eligible for Indiana expungement and would face an indefinite suspension of some of their civil rights, including the ability to run for public office or possess a firearm.
If you’re concerned that your actions, or the actions of a loved one, may constitute official misconduct in Indiana, then the best course of action you can take is to contact an experienced Indiana defense lawyer.
It’s better to do this prior to any charges being filed, as it will allow your attorney to better prepare a defense and do everything in their power to secure the optimal outcome in the case against you.
Regardless of where you’re at in the criminal justice process, you can always call Keffer Hirschauer LLP to speak with an attorney. Our former deputy prosecutors have extensive experience handling matters of criminal law and have a thorough understanding of both the procedures and culture of Indiana courts. We’ll take a hands-on approach to building a creative and resourceful defense on your behalf and will fight tirelessly to protect both you and your freedoms.
Official Misconduct per Indiana Code
Indiana Code 35-44.1-1-1 defines official misconduct as an offense where a public servant knowingly or intentionally does one or more of the four following actions:
- commits an offense in the performance of the public servant’s official duties
- solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept from an appointee or employee any property other than what the public servant is authorized by law to accept as a condition of continued employment
- acquires or divests himself or herself of a pecuniary interest in any property, transaction, or enterprise or aids another person to do so based on information obtained by virtue of the public servant’s office that official action that has not been made public is contemplated; or
- fails to deliver public records and property in the public servant’s custody to the public servant’s successor in office when that successor qualifies.
While the law itself may seem a bit legally complicated, the offense is what most people would refer to as public corruption. Take for example, the former Vigo County School Corporation Superintendent, who in 2015 was indicted on charges of official misconduct and bribery. These charges stemmed from allegations that he used his position to secure a job for a friend and received kickbacks from a contractor. In the end, he pleaded guilty to one count of official misconduct and was sentenced to 10 months of home detention. Another example occurred in 2014, when the former Lake Station, Indiana Mayor and his wife were convicted of wire fraud and filing false tax returns related to their use of city funds for personal expenses. He was also convicted of one count of official misconduct. In the end, he was sentenced to four years in prison and his wife was sentenced to 18 months.
Potential Penalties for Official Misconduct
Nearly every state in the country has a law regarding official misconduct, and for the most part, the penalties are quite harsh. In Indiana, official misconduct is classified as a Level 6 felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 2.5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. This is pretty much in line with the penalties prescribed by other states. For example, in Illinois, official misconduct is a Class 3 felony, which can carry a sentence of 2-5 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. In Michigan, official misconduct is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. It is also worth noting that in some cases, the penalties for official misconduct in other states may be enhanced if the offense involves particularly egregious behavior, such as the embezzlement of large amounts of public funds or the abuse of vulnerable populations.
Expungement Possibilities for those Convicted
Per Indiana Code 35-38-9-3(b)(4), a person convicted of official misconduct in Indiana is not eligible for expungement. In addition, an elected official convicted of a felony offense while serving their elected term or as a candidate for public office is not eligible for expungement. This means that any conviction for official misconduct, or any felony offense committed during an elected official’s time in office, or during their candidacy for that office, will be permanently part of the person’s criminal record.
While it may be easier for individuals convicted of official misconduct in Indiana, when compared to other felons, to resume their lives following the completion of their sentence, there are a handful of important civil rights that the offender will be stripped of permanently. This includes the right to serve on a jury and to vote in elections, but more critically, it includes the right to possess a firearm and the right to run for public office.
Given the restricted civil rights that a person charged with official misconduct may encounter if convicted, it’s that much more vital they speak with an experienced defense attorney as soon as they anticipate that charges may be brought against them. Doing so will put them in the optimal position to minimize the potential penalties, and ideally, protect their civil rights.
Further Questions about Official Misconduct in Indiana?
Whether you have questions about official misconduct in Indiana or simply need to speak with a defense attorney as soon as possible, the Indianapolis attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are here to help you. To speak with a defense attorney today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.