Harris County District Attorney-Elect Kim Ogg held a news conference this week after she learned that crime victims in Harris County were being contacted by individuals who identified themselves as prosecutors and [in her opinion] misinformed the victims about the statuses of their cases. This comes on the heels of DA-Elect Ogg giving 52 individuals notice that they would not have positions in her administration.
In an email to the current administration, DA-Elect Ogg said: “The purpose of this communication is to inform [DA Devon] Anderson … that the use of official and confidential information available only to the prosecutors handling these cases is unethical and possibly illegal. I urge you to immediately halt the access to all official information by these prosecutors and any others engaged in these despicable actions.”
Update: The prosecutors provided responses to the suggestion that they misinformed crime victims about their cases. Read their responses.
Will prosecutors face criminal charges for using or disclosing confidential victim information?
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They could if the allegations against them are true. Public servants by virtue of their position and authority have access to a great deal of sensitive and personal information and the offense of misuse of official information is designed to ensure confidential information remains confidential. Misusing official information is generally a third-degree felony offense in Texas.
Misuse of Official Information
Under the Penal Code, Misuse of Official Information prohibits a public servant from using or disclosing information for a nongovernmental purpose with the intent to obtain a benefit or harm another. Official information is information that the public servant has access to by virtue of his office or employment that has not been made available to the public.
Other examples of acts that would fall under this statute include a peace officer who runs the license plate of his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend with an intent to harm the new boyfriend or a person in government who discloses sensitive information to the media.
If you have been charged with official oppression in Texas, call us at (817) 203-2220, or contact us online:
Also published on Medium.