Administrative law is a branch of law that contains the rules and legal principles governing the administration and regulation of federal and state government agencies. It is considered as a branch of public law and commonly called regulatory law. Decision making in the daily activities of various federal and state agencies is governed by administrative rules.
Administrative rules are agency statements of general applicability that implement, apply, interpret, or prescribe law or policy.[i] A violation of the rules and regulations promulgated by administrative bodies may be considered a criminal violation. An administrative rule does not prescribe criminal penalties. However, if it has the force of law, it may be incorporated into a penal law which provides that a violation of the rule is a crime. It may also be stated that an act is a crime unless it is otherwise authorized by law.
In People v. Samel, 115 Ill. App. 3d 905 (Ill. App. Ct. 2d Dist. 1983), the People of the State of Illinois (appellant), sought review of an order of the Circuit Court of Du Page County (Illinois), dismissing an indictment charging defendant with official misconduct. The defendant, who was a police officer, was indicted on charges of official misconduct for using the Law Enforcement Agency Data System (LEADS) for discovering the names and addresses of vehicle owners for the purpose of facilitating burglaries of their premises. By dismissing the charges, the trial court held that a violation of the LEADS system regulations could not form the basis for a charge of official misconduct because the regulations were not penal in nature. However, it was partly reversed by the appellate court by stating that a violation of an administrative regulation could form the basis for a charge of official misconduct regardless of whether the regulation contained a penalty provision. The court also stated that “a public officer or employee commits misconduct when, in his official capacity, he commits any of the following acts: (b) Knowingly performs an act which he knows he is forbidden by law to perform; or (c) With intent to obtain a personal advantage for himself or another, he performs an act in excess of his lawful authority; A public officer or employee convicted of violating any provision of this Section forfeits his office or employment. In addition he commits a Class 3 felony.”
[i] Com-Co Ins. Agency, Inc. v. West Bend Mut. Ins. Co., 666 F. Supp. 1126, 1128 (N.D. Ill. 1987)