Misuse of Official Information
CRS 18-8-402

In Colorado, public servants have access to information which has not been made public. If a public servant uses this information for financial gain, they may be guilty of misusing official information. This offense is a class 6 felony. The penalties for misuse of official information include up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:

1. What is a misuse of official information?

Public servants may have access to unique information through their official capacity. This information is often not available to the public. If a public servant uses this information for their own benefit, they may be committing the crime of misuse of official information.

Under C.R.S. 18-8-402, official information is information that a public servant has access to in his or her official capacity which has not been made public. Misuse of official information includes:

  • Acquiring a financial interest in any property, transaction, or enterprise which may be affected by such information;
  • Speculating or wagering on the basis of such information; or
  • Aiding, advising, or encouraging another to do any of the foregoing with the intent to confer on any person a special pecuniary benefit.1

Misuse of information could involve using nonpublic information to buy or sell stocks, buy property, or place a bet based on information gained through a public servant's position in public office. It may also include passing on nonpublic information to another person so that they can gain a financial benefit.

2. Who can be charged with misuse of official information?

Misuse of official information applies to any public servant. A public servant includes any officer or employee of the government, including advisors, consultants, process servers, or anyone performing a governmental function. This includes government employees who are elected, appointed, or designated to become public servants.2

Public servants include mayors, city clerks, sheriff's deputies, police officers, fire marshals, prosecutors, state senators, health officers, process servers, public works officers, code enforcement workers, judges, and other city, county, state, or federal officials.

3. What are the penalties for misusing official information?

Misusing official information is a class 6 felony in Colorado.3 The penalties for misusing official information include 12 to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. In addition, there is a mandatory parole period of one year.

In addition to the criminal penalties for misusing official information, a public servant will likely lose their job. After a conviction, it may be more difficult to find a public service job. Finding any job may be difficult after any felony conviction.

4. Related Offenses

4.1. Official Misconduct C.R.S. 18-8-404

Official misconduct in Colorado involves public servants who use their position to obtain a benefit or cause harm to another person. Official misconduct in the first degree is a class 2 misdemeanor, with penalties including 3 to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

4.2. Tampering with Physical Evidence C.R.S. 18-8-610

Altering or destroying physical evidence that may be used in an official proceeding is criminal tampering. Tampering with physical evidence is a class 6 felony, with penalties including up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

4.3. Witness Tampering C.R.S. 18-8-707

Tampering with a witness involves attempts to get a witness to withhold testimony, testify falsely, or be absent from an official proceeding. Tampering with a witness is a class 4 felony, with penalties including 2 to 6 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines.

Call us for help...

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If you are being investigated for abuse of your office or have been accused of official misconduct, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. 

Also see our article on government-related Colorado crimes.

Legal References

  1. C.R.S. 18-8-402(1)
  2. C.R.S. 18-8-301(4)
  3. C.R.S. 18-8-402(2)


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