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Snyder charges: What does a 'willful neglect of duty' charge mean?

Posted at 5:59 AM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 05:59:05-05

FLINT, Mich. — Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged Thursday for his role in the Flint water crisis.

Snyder and several other state officials are expected to be charged.

RELATED: Timeline: View the major events of the Flint Water Crisis

Documents that are now on the Genesee County Court website show former Gov. Rick Snyder is charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty, both misdemeanors that carry penalties of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The criminal case was presented to a one-man grand jury, Genesee County Circuit Judge David Newblatt. The judge's name is on the charging document.

According to the state archivist, no governor or former governor in Michigan's 184-year history have been charged with crimes related to their time in office.

What exactly is the charge?

Here is how the Michigan legislature defines willful neglect of duty: "When any duty is or shall be enjoined by law upon any public officer, or upon any person holding any public trust or employment, every willful neglect to perform such duty, where no special provision shall have been made for the punishment of such delinquency, constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $1,000.00."