Official Misconduct and Obstruction of Public Servants

Official Misconduct, a class A misdemeanor, applies to public servants who commit certain unauthorized acts or refrain from performing an imposed-upon duty relating to his or her office.

Obstructing Government Administration in the Second Degree (PL 195.05) makes it a Class A misdemeanor to intentionally obstruct, impair or pervert the administration of law or other governmental function or to prevent or attempt to prevent a public servant from performing an official function by means of intimidation, physical force or interference. This charge most often arises when a bystander attempts to physically prevent a friend or relative from being arrested by the police. A person can also be guilty of this crime by means of interfering with radio, telephone, television, or other government-run telecommunications systems, or by failing to control a dangerous animal under circumstances “evincing the actor’s intent” that the animal obstruct government administration. Obstructing Government Administration in the First Degree (PL 195.07) is a Class E felony and occurs when the interference with a telecommunications system obstructs the administration of law or a government function and results in a serious physical injury to someone. It is also a Class A misdemeanor to intentionally and unreasonably obstruct the efforts of a firefighter (PL 195.15) or an emergency medical services person (PL 195.16).

Animals acting as public servants receive some protection under the law, but significantly less than human public servants. For example, it is a Class A misdemeanor to intentionally kill or injure a police animal while it is performing its official duties (195.06). Also, intentionally harming an animal trained to aid a person with a disability (such as a seeing-eye dog) in such a way as to make it incapable of providing aid to that person is a Class B misdemeanor (PL 195.11) or a Class A misdemeanor to permanently injure or kill the animal (PL 195.12).

Key Penal Law Provisions:

  • Official misconduct, PL 195.00, a class A misdemeanor
  • Obstructing government administration in the second degree, PL 195.05, a class A misdemeanor
  • Obstructing government administration in the first degree, PL 195.07, a class E felony
  • Killing or injuring a police animal, PL 195.06, a class A misdemeanor
  • Harming an animal trained to aid a person with a disability in the second degree, PL 195.11, a class B misdemeanor
  • Harming an animal trained to aid a person with a disability in the first degree, PL 195.12, a class A misdemeanor
  • Obstructing a fire fighting operation, PL 195.15, a class A misdemeanor
  • Obstructing Emergency Medical Services, PL 195.16, a class A misdemeanor