Impeachment in the United States
Impeachment in the United States is the process by which a legislature (usually in the form of the lower house) brings charges against a civil officer of government for crimes alleged to have been committed, analogous to the bringing of an indictment by a grand jury. Impeachment may occur at the federal level or the state level. The federal House of Representatives can impeach federal officials, including the president or vice-president, with a simple majority of the House members present or such other criteria as the House adopts in accordance with Article One, Section 2, Clause 5 of the United States Constitution. Most state legislatures can impeach state officials, including the governor, in accordance with their respective state constitution.
Most impeachments have concerned alleged crimes committed while in office, though there have been a few cases in which officials have been impeached and subsequently convicted for crimes committed prior to taking office. The impeached official continues to serve their term until a trial is held. Federally, a two-thirds majority of the senators present at the trial is required for conviction under Article One, Section 3, Clause 6 of the Constitution.
In impeachment proceedings, the defendant does not risk forfeiture of life, liberty, or property. According to the Constitution, the only penalties allowed to be imposed by the Senate are removal from office and disqualification from holding any federal office in the future.