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Malfeasance is an act that is illegal and causes physical or monetary harm to someone else. Malfeasance is intentional conduct that is wrongful or unlawful, especially by officials or public employees. 

  • In the context of tort law, “malfeasance” is at a higher level of wrongdoing than nonfeasance (failure to act where there was a duty to act) or misfeasance (conduct that is lawful but harms another person financially or physically due to carelessness or an accident).
  • In the context of criminal law, “malfeasance” can apply to cases that cause financial damage or physical injury to another person. Malpractice is an example of criminal malfeasance.
  • In the corporate law, corporate malfeasance can range from unethical to illegal actions and can include cases that cause physical harm to another person. For example, a Ponzi scheme is an act of corporate malfeasance. 

See also: Nonfeasance; Misfeasance

[Last updated in April of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]