What is Malfeasance ?

Malfeasance is a legal term referring to an individual intentionally performing an illegal act. There are two legal concepts related to malfeasance: nonfeasance and misfeasance. Nonfeasance is for any individual who failed to act even if there is an existing duty for action. Misfeasance is wrongfully performing a legal act. For instance, a lawyer or a public official did a legal thing erroneously or out of ignorance.

When a contract makes a duty that does not exist at common law, the parties can do one of three things. First, fully perform the duty, next is perform the duty poorly or inadequately or the last, fail to perform the duty at all. Nonfeasance occurs if the party fails to perform at all. When a party performs the inadequate or poor duty, it is misfeasance. Malfeasance is used to indicate outright sabotage, which causes intentional damage.

Malfeasance often refers to people working in public office doing an illegal act or unknowingly doing an illegal act. A public official proved of malfeasance is subject for dismissal from their position. However, proving malfeasance can somehow be difficult, as many experts do not entirely agree with its definition as well as the court. Determining and proving if the act interfered with public official’s duties is also difficult, so some courts believe that the act of malfeasance can also be applied to public officials’ duties interference.

Due to dissimilarity over the precise meaning of malfeasance, the definitions of malfeasance and misfeasance somewhat overlapped. As a result, malfeasance can also sometimes describe the negligent acts that were committed out of unawareness and ignorance and not just to those that were intentionally committed.

The exact example of malfeasance by its original definition would be if a public official hires her relative to a particular position and pays more than the warrant position or allows her to manipulate her time cards. On the other hand, malfeasance would apply to any public official who employs a relative without knowing that it is against the law to appoint a relative for a position.

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