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What does official misconduct mean?

In Wisconsin, official misconduct occurs when a public official engages in any illegal or improper acts. In addition to being a criminal offense, official misconduct is a violation of the official's duty to serve the public good rather than his or her own personal good. Official misconduct can take many different forms, which is why some public officials may not know or believe they have committed a crime.

Some examples of this kind of misconduct include the following:

-- Purposely refusing or failing to perform required duties within the required period of time

-- Knowingly acting outside of one's lawful authority

-- Intentionally soliciting or accepting anything of value in exchange for the performance of a service

-- Intentionally falsifying records or documents

-- Acting outside of his or her duties to gain a personal advantage or an advantage for another party

The above examples of official misconduct are all Class I felonies in the state of Wisconsin and can mean harsh penalties if the defendant is convicted. Further, if the alleged misconduct falls under the federal crimes umbrella, the penalties can be even more severe.

Defending those accused of official misconduct is possible if the defendant seeks legal counsel early. The prosecution must prove that the defendant acted with intent, which can leave the door open for a good criminal attorney to build a solid defense.

If you or a loved one is facing charges of official misconduct, it is crucial to find an attorney right away. If the alleged misconduct or federal crime occurred in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, look for a law firm that can answer questions about how to defend yourself against the charges.

Source: Wisconsin State legislature, "Misconduct in Public Office," accessed Oct. 26, 2015

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