If you are currently employed by the government in the State of Nebraska, or are considering employment in a government job, it is important that you understand what it means to be a public servant. In the United States, public servants are held to higher standards, in large part because we consider them to be working for the people. In a private sector job, violating a company rule might get you disciplined, even fired, but it will not likely land you in jail. As a public servant, however, conduct that qualifies as official misconduct could lead to criminal charges being filed against you.
The definition of, and penalties for, “official misconduct” can be found in Nebraska Revised Statutes 28-924 which states as follows:
“A public servant commits official misconduct if he knowingly violates any statute or lawfully adopted rule or regulation relating to his official duties.”
According to the statute, official misconduct is a Class II misdemeanor in the State of Nebraska. If convicted, you could face up to six months in jail and/or up to a $1000 fine. If you have been charged with official misconduct, however, the judicial ramifications may not be your biggest concern because a conviction for official misconduct will almost surely mean the end of your career in public service.
One important thing to realize about Nebraska’s official misconduct statute is how broad it is. As stated in the statute, you may be found guilty of official misconduct for “violating any statute or lawfully adopted rule or regulation…” Depending on your position, and the corresponding duties and responsibilities, that could leave a wide range of possibilities.
Of equal importance, however, is the mens rea, or state of mind, required in order to be found guilty of official misconduct in Nebraska. You have only committed a crime if you knowingly violate a statute, rule, or regulation. In the world of legal jargon, the word “knowingly” has great significance. It is the strongest mens rea used in criminal law. In the case of official misconduct, it means that an honest error on your part in the interpretation of a statute, rule, or regulation would not be a crime. Likewise, ignorance of a statute, rule, or regulation might be a defense to a charge of official misconduct.
If you have been charged with official misconduct, or any other criminal offense in Nebraska, it I critical that you consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney as early as possible in the case to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the prosecution of your case. Contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
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