Obstruction of Justice Charges
Though it may seem like a loaded phrase, obstruction of justice is pretty straightforward. If you fail to cooperate with law enforcement officers, you can be charged. Unfortunately, the list of possible ways that you could potentially hinder police is varied and vast. This includes multiple situations, including purposefully impairing, obstructing, or attempting to prevent an officer from performing their duty. Some examples include flight, imitation, force, violence, interference, and lying. For example, providing the office with a false name when arrested can be an obstruction of justice. Similar to situations when a person is resisting arrest, fleeing from an officer or causing any other hindrance to that officer can warrant an obstruction of justice charge. Even if you were otherwise not in the process of an illegal act, if you interfere or prevent an officer from performing his or her lawful duty, you may be charged.
This type of offense varies distinctly on the individual circumstances, and no two situations are the same. An officer may be quick to charge you without taking into consideration outside circumstances that may have an impact on your reasoning for doing something specific. There are several potential defenses that can be used that may provide the court with enough evidence to dismiss your charge. Facing your charge alone will likely end less than satisfactorily, so it’s important to find an attorney who has experience dealing with these types of charges to ensure that you will have the best defense possible.
An obstruction of justice charge is classified as a fourth degree crime under a disorderly persons offense, depending on the specific situation and the circumstances or if you obstructed the detection or investigation of a crime. If convicted of a disorderly persons offense, there is a potential six month jail sentence as well as a fine of up to $1,000. If convicted of a fourth degree crime, you could face up to 18 months incarceration as well as a monetary fine not to exceed $10,000. Both offenses will be on your criminal record and can negatively impact obtaining employment in the future.
Trying to understand every possible action that could leave you with a criminal charge can be very difficult, especially since the statutory language only states that the crime is to commit an obstruction without providing examples. Many times, you may not even be aware that you were indeed obstructing justice, especially if approached by a detective or investigator who failed to properly identity his or herself to you.
If you have been charged with an obstruction of justice, seek legal help right away. An attorney with experience in representing those with this offense can provide you the assistance you need to get through it with as little stress as possible. The Law Office of Zapicchi & Liller can help so you do not have to face your charge alone. Call today for a free consultation at (609) 291-9500