What is Malfeasance?
Malfeasance is a legal term that may refer to an act of misconduct, or improper action, by a public official or employee. It is defined as an intentional illegal act that is done in an official capacity, or while using one’s authority as a public official or employee. Malfeasance often involves a breach of trust, such as using one’s office for personal gain, or making decisions that are not in the best interests of the public. In the insurance industry, malfeasance can refer to the willful, illegal, or improper conduct of an insurance company or agent, such as failing to pay claims or falsifying records.
Malfeasance in More Detail
Malfeasance is distinct from misfeasance, which refers to an act that is not illegal or improper, but is performed improperly or negligently. Similarly, nonfeasance is the failure to act when one should do so. While misfeasance and nonfeasance may be grounds for disciplinary action or even civil liability, they are not considered to be criminal.
At times, malfeasance can be difficult to prove in court due to its nature as an intentional act. In order to prove malfeasance, a prosecutor must show that the public official or employee acted with the intent to do something unlawful. In many cases, circumstantial evidence or witness testimony is used to establish intent. If found guilty, a person charged with malfeasance may face criminal penalties, including fines and/or imprisonment.
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