Public Officers Law and Legal Definition

A public officer is defined by state laws, which vary by state, but is generally anyone who holds a public office. A public office is any position for which one is nominated at a state primary or chosen at a state election, but may exclude certain positions, such as the positions of Senator and Representative in Congress and the office of regional district school committee member elected district-wide.

The removal of public officers is governed by constitution provisions or statute. Generally, if there is no fixed term of office and no statutory or constitutional provision governing removal, an appointed officer may be removed at will without notice or hearing. However, an officer holding for fixed term can generally be removed only for cause.

A resignation is the formal renouncement or relinquishing of a public office. Once a public officer has voluntarily resigned and the resignation has been accepted, it is effective immediately. Unless otherwise provided by statute, resignation may be made orally or in writing. If an official is bribed to use his or her office to obtain favorable action, both the official and the person paying the bribe may be prosecuted.