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What Is the Law On 'Abuse of Authority' In Arizona And What Are the Punishments for It?

An abuse of authority can mean anything from taking advantage of your power in an office to treating a person improperly, incorrectly, inappropriately, illegally or illicitly. An abuse of authority occurs when someone takes advantage of his office and its power against or in favour of someone for some benefit.

The laws on abuse of authority in Arizona and the punishments are as under.

Bribery of a Public Servant or Party Office

This abuse covers both parties, the party that offers the benefit with an intent to influence, and the party that takes the benefit with a promise to influence using their power. The intention of the person giving the bribe is corrupt, and the public or party official soliciting, accepting, or agreeing to accept the benefit is abusing authority.

  • Punishment

Bribery of a public servant is punishable as a class 4 felony. It is punishable with up to 3 years imprisonment and a maximum of $150,000 fine to both parties. The public servant is forced to forfeit his or her office.

Trading on Public Office

Any office bearer or a public servant offering nomination or appointment into the public office must have a corrupt intent.  Trading on public office is an offence that covers both, the party that offers and the party that agrees to confer any official appointment or nomination. The offense covers both with the intent to influence public action as well as soliciting, accepting, or agreeing to accept the office.

  • Punishment

Trading on public office is punishable as a class 6 felony.  It is punishable with up to 2 years imprisonment and a maximum of $150,000 fine to both parties. The public servant is forced to forfeit his or her office.

Abuse of Authority Laws

Offer to Exert Improper Influence

A person who knowingly or intentionally seeks to obtain or obtains any benefit from another party or person upon a representation or a claim that he can or will influence the action of a public servant is guilty of abusing power or authority.

  • Punishment

Offer to exert improper influence is punishable as a class 4 felony. It is punishable with up to 3 years imprisonment and a maximum of $150,000 fine to both parties. The public servant is forced to forfeit his or her office.

Employment of Relatives

Nepotism is seen in every industry. It covers appointing or voting to appoint relatives within the third degree of consanguinity or descendant from the same ancestor. It is considered as an abuse of authority and is a punishable offence.

  • Punishment

Employment of relatives qualifies as a Class 2 misdemeanor. It is punishable with up to four months imprisonment and a maximum of $750 fine.

Abuse of Authority Laws Arizona

Lobbying Activity in Arizona State Government

Lobbying refers to an attempt by individuals or private interest groups to influence the decisions of government. Any public officer or employee lobbying their respective public bodies within one year of leaving office as well as disclosing official information within two years is considered a punishable offence.

  • Punishment

Lobbying activities in Arizona State Government is punishable as a class 1 misdemeanor. It is punishable with up to six months imprisonment and a maximum of $2500 fine to both parties.

Commercial Bribery

When bribery affects the commercial affairs of a private employer and causes economic loss to the employer or principal, it is called commercial bribery. This offence covers the person who offers the bribe as well as the officer who accepts the bribe to act against any private employer. The benefit valued at or over $1000 is considered a class 5 felony, of less than $100 is a class 1 misdemeanor, and between $100 and $1,000 is a class 6 felony.

  • Punishment

Commercial bribery is punishable as a class 5 felony, a class 6 felony or a class 1 misdemeanor. The punishment varies based on the value of the benefit.


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