What is Obstruction of Justice?
Obstruction of justice involves any action that interferes with the prosecution or investigation of a criminal offense. There is a great deal of flexibility in what can and cannot be considered obstruction of justice. It often involves hiding suspects from the authorities, lying to police officers or warning someone about a potential subpoena.
Some common forms of obstruction of justice include the following:
- Assisting a suspect: Hiding a suspect from the police is not the only way to assist an individual in efforts to evade capture. Simply warning another person of an ongoing investigation can be considered obstruction of justice, as it gives that person an opportunity to destroy any evidence or take other steps necessary to avoid police capture, such as preparing an alibi. Another example of assisting a suspect in a way that would be classified as obstruction is helping to dispose of incriminating evidence.
- Lying: Anyone who lies to law enforcement officers during the course of a criminal investigation may be charged with obstruction of justice, whether those lies come in the form of written answers, false verbal answers or falsifying documents. Depending on the circumstances in which the lies were delivered, one could also be charged with perjury.
- Altering or tampering with evidence: The act of destroying, tampering with or altering evidence in any way can lead to obstruction of justice charges. This includes tampering with witnesses through threats, coercion, bribes or other forms of interference with testimony.
For more information on obstruction of justice charges and how you can best defend yourself, meet with knowledgeable criminal defense attorney David R. Eshelman.