We know the law is strict for citizens; people are rightfully punished under the justice system for whatever felony they commit. But is it true for powerful people like government officials? Or maybe even the President?
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What is a High Crime and Misdemeanor?
When government officials commit crimes, which could be anything from bribery or treason, they are charged with impeachment, known as a high crime and misdemeanor.
According to law, if a President, Vice President, or any other government official is impeached, they are to be removed from office. Now the statement makes it clear on ‘treason’ and ‘bribery’, but what crimes come under ‘high crime and misdemeanor’? That part remains unclear.
High crimes is the activity by or against those who have special duties acquired by taking an oath of office that are not shared with common persons. A high crime is one that can be done only by someone in a unique position of authority, which is political in character, who does things to circumvent justice. The phrase ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ used together, was a common phrase when the U.S Constitution was written and did not require any stringent or difficult criteria for determining guilt but meant the opposite.
All through the history of the United States, there have been three Presidents who were impeached, as they were charged with high crime and misdemeanor.
Andrew Johnson (1868):
In 1868, President Andrew Johnson went through impeachment procedures when he requested the terminating of his secretary of war. His adversaries charged that this request disregarded the Tenure of Office Act, which set the residency of specific authorities. Johnson got away from conviction in the Senate by just one vote, yet the endeavor to denounce him immediately came to be viewed as a politically spurred mistake.
In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee suggested that the full House of Representatives support Articles of Impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon. It didn’t refer to any single impeachable offense, yet rather found a wide example of bad behavior: Nixon had plotted with his consultants to impede government and legislative examinations of the Watergate break-in, the burglarizing of the Democratic National Committee base camp in Washington, D.C., which was inevitably connected to the Nixon organization. Nixon left office before the cycle could proceed.
Bill Clinton (1998)
The argument about what constitutes a high crime or misdemeanor reappeared in 1998 when the House Judiciary Committee casted a vote to suggest that the House start prosecution procedures against President Bill Clinton. The House agreed with the suggestion, which included charges of prevarication and impediment of equity. Legitimate pundits bantered for quite a long time about whether these charges were the sort of high crime and misdemeanor examined by the language of the Constitution, however the House in any case endorsed two of the four articles of impeachment. The case at that point moved to the Senate, which neglected to collect the important 66% votes to eliminate Clinton from office.
Donald Trump (2019)
President Donald Trump was impeached in 2019 for abuse of power and obstruction of justice on allegations that he unlawfully solicited Ukranian authorities to influence the U.S election of 2020. The inquiry revealed that Trump retained military aid and a solicitation to the White House to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky so as to impact Ukraine to declare an examination concerning Trump’s political opponent, Joe Biden and to advance a disparaged paranoid idea that Ukraine, not Russia, was behind impedance in the 2016 presidential election.
All three of these were impeached for high crime and misdemeanor, but none of them were removed from office by the Senate. Additionally, the House has impeached 15 federal judges, one Cabinet secretary, and one senator. Eight officials have been convicted and removed from office, all of whom were judges.
What exactly is a Misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is known as a petty crime, something that doesn’t have much of an impact on the victim or any third party. But even though the crime may seem petty, it is still punishable.
A misdemeanor is a petty crime that a person may commit intentionally and unintentionally, even the most common examples of misdemeanors are broad terms. A misdemeanor in one state may not be considered punishable somewhere else, it all depends what the law in your particular state says.
Assault: If a person verbally or physically assaults the other person, intentionally or unintentionally, it is considered a misdemeanor. For instance if a person pushes you and you get injured, or if a person unintentionally hurts you and it affects you, you could sue them for misdemeanor.
Trespassing: If a person willingly or unwillingly enters prohibited territory which is marked only for authorized personnel, they could be charged for misdemeanor.
Drug abuse in public: Being intoxicated in public can have severe consequences because this is also considered a misdemeanor. For instance a person engages in disorderly behavior under influence, especially in public can result in a misdemeanor charge.
Petty theft: Theft in itself is a major crime that is punishable by law, but there are cases of petty theft too, especially where people steal enough to manage their meals for two days. In some states the limit for a theft to be considered petty and a misdemeanor is $300. The punishment of such a theft isn’t as severe.
The punishment for misdemeanor isn’t as severe as a class A felony, but it varies depending upon the intensity of the crime.
Common punishment includes jail time, fines, probation and a criminal record.
Usually, the maximum penalties for misdemeanors are:
- First-degree: Up to five years in jail and $10,000 in fines
- Second-degree: Up to two years in jail and $5,000 in fines
- Third-degree: Up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines
The major deal about high crime and misdemeanor is that these are charged to powerful people like high power judiciary or government officials, and in the history of the United States, three presidents have been charged with impeachment.
A misdemeanor is petty crime committed, and has a petty punishment too. These crimes are to warn people to not commit them because no matter how small, a crime is a crime and is punishable by law.