The term "obstruction of justice” refers to any effort to interfere with a criminal investigation or pending case through your actions toward police officers, judges, evidence, or witnesses.
Rather than being a single criminal offense, obstruction of justice is a whole category of criminal offenses, much as embezzlement is but one example of an offense within the broader category of financial crimes. When people get charged with obstruction of justice, it is usually because they already had some involvement with the criminal justice system already. For example, it is obstruction of justice if you flush your drugs down the toilet when the police knock on your door, but the only reason that the police are knocking on your door is because a judge issued a search warrant because the police provided credible evidence that they would find drugs if they searched your house. Likewise, you might get accused of obstruction of justice if you lie to the police in order to protect a friend; in some cases, conspiracy and obstruction of justice are closely related. If you are being accused of obstruction of justice, contact an Atlanta obstruction of justice defense lawyer.
Examples of Obstruction of Justice
Obstruction of justice is anything you do to stop police officers, investigators, or the court from collecting evidence, making an arrest, or conducting a criminal trial according to legal requirements. The following actions can all count as obstruction of justice:
- Telling a police officer a fake name instead of your real name or otherwise lying to an officer during a routine interaction
- Fleeing from police on foot or in a vehicle after an officer has attempted to engage with you
- Deleting computer files that might be used as evidence in a criminal investigation or destroying physical evidence related to an investigation or pending case
- Attempting to influence witnesses, judges, or jurors with threats or bribes or simply by talking to them about the case
- Threatening or physically assaulting a police officer
- Attempting to disable a GPS monitoring device if the court has ordered you to wear one
- Fleeing while you are out on bail
- Lying during a trial or deposition or in a written statement submitted to the court
Most obstruction of justice offenses are felonies. Acts of obstruction of justice that involve physical violence or threats against law enforcement officers are felonies that carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The best way to make criminal charges against you go away is not through scorched earth or sleight of hand. Rather, you should exercise your right to remain silent in the moment. When you are alone with your criminal defense lawyer, you should talk strategy and find the best arguments to get acquitted at trial or suppress evidence in order to weaken the prosecution’s case against you.