What is the Law on 'Abuse of authority' in Washington and What are the Punishments for it?
Abuse of authority consists of cases where an individual using their position, either in Office or in any other public platform, in order to advance their agenda in one form or another, whether it be gaining a monetary value, or by increasing their own status or the status of a family member.
Abuse of Power by an Individual can Take the Form of a Various Number of Actions, including the following:
- Bullying or harassing junior workers, staff personnel, or their co-workers.
- Requesting their staff or their juniors to do their personal work for them in-office time, thus interfering in their work.
- Pressuring or otherwise forcing juniors or co-workers to break the rules of the office, whether it be maligning and distorting facts, falsifying the use of public funds, and coercing another person to help them in embezzling funds.
- Interfering with the work of a co-worker, junior or staff personnel, in order to impede and hamper the completion of their duties. This includes restricting their access to data, resources, and information.
Punishment for Abuse of Authority
The punishments for abuse of authority in Washington vary according to the money that was requested, the position of the person or people who were involved, and whether or not the deed was completed to fruition. The various categories of abuse of power and their punishments for abuse of authority include the following:
Class B Felonies:
Class B felonies include those crimes which involve the direct exchange of money from one person to another, whether it be a direct transfer of money from one person to another or an indirect transfer of money from one account to another. Class B felonies include the following:
- Embezzling or falsifying the use of public funds.
- Accepting or giving a bribe.
The maximum penalty for a Class B felony includes up to ten years of prison time, a fine of $20,000, or both, depending on the crime that was committed.
Class C Felonies:
Class C felonies are described as those felonies in which a person uses their position of authority in office to either further the career of another person or themselves, either by taking money or exchanging favors of some sort.
- Requesting an unlawful or under- the- table compensation for some official work.
- Trading in a public office
- Trading "special influence" with a person for monetary benefits
The maximum penalty for a Class C felony in Washington is up to 5 years in prison, a fine of $10000, or both, depending on the crime that was committed.
Gross misdemeanors are those crimes which may or may not involve the direct dealing of money, but rather involve the individual in question abusing their authority in the public office in some other way. examples of gross misdemeanors in the state of Washington include the following:
- Delegating powers to other people for some sort of gain, whether it be monetary or societal.
- Forcibly taking up a public position where one is not supposed to be, or refusing to leave office if one's term is up.
- Publicly releasing a false or misleading statement or report, which will undoubtedly cause harm to the reputation of another person.
- Purposely ignoring any provisions of law which stipulate what the official code of conduct for any public official should be.
The maximum penalty for a public official who has been convicted of committing a gross misdemeanor is up to 364 days in prison, less than a year, a fine of $5000, or both, depending on the crime that was committed.