If you have been charged with official misconduct not all criminal defense attorneys in New Jersey are familiar with the technical aspect of this law which will result in serious consequences upon a conviction.
The Official Misconduct statute N.J.S.A. 2C:30-2 is a harsh law which requires upon conviction a mandatory period of parole ineligibility upon conviction or plea. Often public officials charged with these offenses engaged in lapse of judgment and are normally law abiding citizens. Unfortunately, are state legislatures, wanting the public to feel that they are harsh on crime, have decided to place public officials in class of people subject to more severe sentences when they commit a crime while in a position of “official trust”, i.e., public employees. The courts have held that public employees are any employee whether they are paid or not. To illustrate the insanity of this law, a volunteer fireman in the case State v. Quezada, 402 N.J. 277 (App. Div. 2008) was charged with official misconduct and sentenced to eight years in state prison.
If you are charged with this offense you should call Attorney Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., (CriminalDefenseNJ.com) to discuss your legal rights, any possible defenses, and mitigating circumstances. Attorney Sanzone has and will defend police officers, police employees, state, county and local employees against these charges.
In addition, a pubic official can likewise be charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:30-7, pattern of official misconduct which upon conviction must run consecutive to the underlying predicate act. For example if the public official is charged with a pattern of official misconduct, i.e., engaging in a pattern of bribery in office, the public official would be sentenced for the conviction for the bribery offenses, and a consecutive sentence for the official misconduct sentence. Thus serving two consecutive, non-concurrent, sentences, back-to -back. Additionally, upon conviction after a jury or bench trial the trial judge is prohibited from giving a flat sentence.
In addition to the foregoing, if this wasn’t enough, the defendant convicted of this offense is subject to mandatory forfeiture of their public office and pension.
The Statute N.J.S.A. 2C:30-2 reads as follows:
A public servant is guilty of official misconduct when, with purpose to obtain a benefit for himself or another or to injure or to deprive another of a benefit:
a. He commits an act relating to his office but constituting an unauthorized exercise of his official functions, knowing that such act is unauthorized or he is committing such act in an unauthorized manner; or
b. He knowingly refrains from performing a duty which is imposed upon him by law or is clearly inherent in the nature of his office.
Official misconduct is a crime of the second degree. If the benefit obtained or sought to be obtained, or of which another is deprived or sought to be deprived, is of a value of $ 200.00 or less, the offense of official misconduct is a crime of the third degree.
N.J.S.A. 2C:30-7. Crime of pattern of official misconduct reads as follows:
a. A person commits the crime of pattern of official misconduct if he commits two or more acts that violate the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:30-2 or section 2 of P.L. 2003, c. 31 (C. 2C:30-6). It shall not be a defense that the violations were not part of a common plan or scheme, or did not have similar methods of commission.
b. Pattern of official misconduct is a crime of the second degree if one of the acts committed by the defendant is a first or second degree crime; otherwise, it is a crime of the third degree, provided, however, that the presumption of non-imprisonment set forth in subsection e. of N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1 for persons who have not previously been convicted of an offense shall not apply. Notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:1-8 or any other law, a conviction of pattern of official misconduct shall not merge with a conviction of official misconduct, official deprivation of civil rights, or any other criminal offense, nor shall such other conviction merge with a conviction under this section, and the court shall impose separate sentences upon each violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:30-2 and sections 2 and 3 of P.L. 2003, c. 31 (C. 2C:30-6 and C. 2C:30-7).
N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.5. Mandatory minimum prison term for public officer
a. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:43-6 and except as otherwise provided in subsection c. of this section, a person who serves or has served as a public officer or employee under the government of this State, or any political subdivision thereof, who is convicted of a crime that involves or touches such office or employment as set forth in subsection b. of this section, shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment without eligibility for parole as follows: for a crime of the fourth degree, the mandatory minimum term shall be one year; for a crime of the third degree, two years; for a crime of the second degree, five years; and for a crime of the first degree, 10 years; unless the provisions of any other law provide for a higher mandatory minimum term. As used in this subsection, "a crime that involves or touches such office or employment" means that the crime was related directly to the person's performance in, or circumstances flowing from, the specific public office or employment held by the person.