If a person commits an offense where he deliberately prevents, impairs or hinders the administration of law or any other government function, he/she will be charged with obstruction of justice. If the person prevents or attempts to bar a public servant from performing an official function either by running, violence, intimidation, placing physical obstacles or using any kind of force, he/she will also be charged with obstruction of justice.
Some common examples of obstruction of justice is resisting arrest, giving a fake name to the police in order to avoid arrest, refusing to allow entry to law enforcement officers if they have been alerted of an ongoing crime.
In order to formally set an obstruction of justice charge, the prosecutor will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you consciously physically obstructed, or impaired the public officer and therefore prevented them from administering due justice. The prosecutor will also have to prove that by doing all of the above, you knew that the actions would interfere with the administration of justice.
These are pretty clear on what the crime is. There are, however, exceptions to the law that have been made based on rulings by other courts. For instance, a court holds that one will not be guilty of obstructing justice if he/she was exercising his right to privacy by closing the door and refusing entry of law enforcement officials into his home. This applies where the law enforcement officers did not have proper documentation or a search warrant to enter and search the premises.
Conversely cases where the public officials are found to have been acting unlawfully, you may still be found guilty of obstruction of justice if the officials can be found to have been acting in good faith and representing the law.
So as you can see, there are quite a number of gray areas when it comes to enforcing the obstruction of justice. It is therefore important to get adequate and experienced legal representation to navigate these processes.
Obstruction of justice is placed under the disorderly person’s offense. This is handled in a municipal court and can attract a six month jail term along with fines of about $100 and a criminal record.
However, in some cases, it could be classified as a fourth degree felony if you are accused of preventing the detection, investigation or prosecution of a crime. This could get you up to 18 months in jail along with relevant fines and a criminal record.
In addition to these, you could pay a $75 safe neighborhood assessment penalty, $50 VCCB assessment along with restitution to the victim, court costs and loss of driving privilege. You will also have to face a period of probation.
If you or a loved one is accused of obstructing justice, it is important to make sure that you get the top representation for them to ensure that their rights are defended and protected throughout this rather complicated procedure. At Zapicchi & Liller we are just the people you are looking for. Contact Us today and let us help you.