What Is the Law on Abuse of Authority in Texas and What Are the Punishments for It?
Abuse of Authority is any neglect of duties, ethical violations or acceptance of bribes by people in positions of power. Such violations, especially when conducted by public officials, can lead to situations where authority that is meant to protect either the state or the employees of an organization, fail to do the same and instead put those same institutions in harm or jeopardy. It is a serious crime to commit an abuse of authority in the State of Texas.
There are various levels at which Abuse of Authority can be performed. What this means is that a person who holds a position of power can both accept bribes as well as engage in Nepotism. Both these crimes receive different punishments, but anyone accused of and then found guilty of engaging in abuse of authority will have to be tried for all counts of ethical misconduct and receive punishments for every crime. In Texas, such ethical violations can lead to incarceration, payment of fines as well as civil penalties.
What Is Considered as Abuse of Authority in the State of Texas?
Texas distinguishes between different forms of abuses of power by placing them in different categories, depending on the severity of the crime committed. Certain convictions are considered felonies, others are considered to be misdemeanors and there is also a separate category of penalties that the convict can occur, depending on the crimes they committed.
Holding positions of power carry the need to fulfill important responsibilities and duties towards the state and its people. Those that fail to not only comply with such ethical regulations but who also deliberately tout them, will face harsh consequences on the State of Texas.
What Are the Punishments for Abuse of Authority in the State of Texas?
Texas classifies the punishments that can be meted out to individuals convicted of abusing their authority within the state, subject to the crimes they committed. The various crimes and their penalties in Texas are:
- Second Degree Felony: It is considered a second-degree felony when the convict has accepted a bribe. Such a person may either have to spend time in incarceration that is not less than two years and not more than twenty years, pay an amount in fines that is not greater than $10,000, or both.
- Class A Misdemeanor: It is considered a Class A Misdemeanor when a person holding a position of power exercises unethical influence on others, accepts an undue honorarium, or indulge in a gift to a public servant dependant on their jurisdiction. Such a person will have to either spend a period of time in jail that is not greater than one year, pay an amount in fines that do not exceed $4000, or both.
- Class B Misdemeanor: Any person found guilty of deliberately failing to file their financial statement is guilty of this crime. The convict will either have to spend a period of time in jail that is no greater than 180 days, pay an amount in fines that do not exceed $2000, or both.
- Class C Misdemeanor: Anyone found guilty of misusing official information is guilty of this crime and they can be charged with a fine that does not exceed $500.
In addition to these crimes, the State of Texas also imposes certain civil penalties to those found guilty of abusing their power in positions of authority. These include:
- Anyone found guilty of indulging in Nepotism can be convicted of a Misdemeanor. They will have to pay an amount in fines that is not less than $100 and not more than $1000. They will also be removed from their position of authority.
- Anyone who does not submit a full financial disclosure in the state faces civil penalties as well. They can be fined up to $10,000 if they are more than ten days in filing their statement even after the commission sends them a warning.
- Anyone who receives a complaint pertinent to indulging in inappropriate ethical practices can be fined an amount that does not exceed $10,000.
- Anyone who violated an order from the commission will either have to pay a fine that does not exceed $5000, or three times the amount related to the order they delayed from the commission, depending on whichever one is greater.
The State of Texas takes all cases related to abuse of authority extremely seriously in the state and anyone found guilty of this crime may also face a loss of employment, as well as difficulty in securing future employment.