In Colorado, when a public servant uses their office to obtain a benefit or harm another person, they may be guilty of official misconduct. Official misconduct in the first degree is a class 2 misdemeanor. The penalties for official misconduct include up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is official misconduct?
- 2. Who can be charged with official misconduct?
- 3. What are the penalties for official misconduct?
- 4. Related Offenses
When a public servant uses his or her position for their own benefit, they may be committing the criminal offense of “official misconduct.” Official misconduct can include obtaining a benefit for the public servant or maliciously causing harm to another. First-degree official misconduct includes:
- Committing an act relating to his or her office but constituting an unauthorized exercise of his or her official function;
- Refraining from performing a duty imposed by law; or
- Violating any statute or lawfully adopted rule or regulation relating to his or her office.1
Even if a public official is not acting for their own benefit or to harm another, they may still be committing official misconduct. Second-degree official misconduct includes knowingly, arbitrarily, and capriciously refraining from performing a duty or violating a statute or regulation.2
Examples of official misconduct may include:
- A police officer letting off a friend who was driving drunk;
- A city council member voting for a construction project in which they have an undisclosed interest; or
- A sheriff's deputy using law enforcement computers to spy on a former partner.
Official misconduct 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.3
Public servants includes Colorado state, county, city, or federal government employees, such as mayors, city clerks, sheriff's deputies, police officers, fire marshals, ICE officers, BLM employees, park rangers, prosecutors, state senators, health officers, process servers, public works officers, code enforcement workers, judges, and federal agents.
First-degree official misconduct is a class 2 misdemeanor in Colorado.4 The penalties for first-degree official misconduct include 3 to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Second-degree official misconduct is a class 1 petty offense.5 The penalties for second-degree official misconduct include up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $500.
4.1. Misuse of Official Information C.R.S. 18-8-402
When a public servant uses nonpublic information for their own benefit, they may be committing the crime of misuse of official information. Misuse of official information is a class 6 felony in Colorado. The penalties for misuse of official information include 12 to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Offering money or other benefits to a public official to influence their actions is criminal bribery. Offering a bribe or asking for a bribe in Colorado is a felony. The penalties for bribery of a public official includes up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.
Abuse of records involves changing or destroying public records or entering false information into a public record. Abuse of public records is a class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties abuse of public records in Colorado include 6 to 18 months in jail and a fine from $500 to $5,000.
It is a criminal offense for a public servant to request pecuniary benefit for performing an official action knowing they are required to perform that action without compensation. Soliciting unlawful compensation per CRS 18-8-304 is a class 2 misdemeanor. Penalties include 3 to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Call us for help...
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.
Is your case in Nevada? See our article on police misconduct in Nevada.
Is your case in California? See our article on police misconduct in California.
- C.R.S. 18-8-404(1)
- C.R.S. 18-8-405(1)
- C.R.S. 18-8-301(4)
- C.R.S. 18-8-404(2)
- C.R.S. 18-8-405(2)