Obstruction of justice is an offense that occurs when someone intentionally interferes with the course of justice in order to change the outcome of a criminal proceeding or protect someone else. Below are some scenarios that can result in obstruction of justice charges being laid:
● Lying to the police during an investigation
● Changing or destroying physical evidence
● Committing perjury in court
● Interfering with the work of prosecutors, law enforcement figures, and government officials who are doing work to ensure justice
● A district attorney, police chief, or government official failing to uphold the law
Penalties for obstruction of justice will vary based on the actual charge the person is accused of obstructing: interfering with a murder investigation will be punished more heavily than obstructing a marijuana possession proceeding. If the obstruction was done via interference, intimidation, physical force, or any other independently illegal act, New York law regards it as Obstruction of Governmental Administration in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. Obstruction of Governmental Administration in the First Degree applies when someone commits Obstruction of Governmental Administration in the Second Degree by interfering with a telecommunications system and thereby causing major physical injury to someone else. This crime is a class E felony punishable by 1-4 years in prison.
Difference between New York State and Federal statutes:
Like New York state law, federal penalties for obstruction of justice will vary depending on the criminal actions that were committed. Destroying, altering, or falsifying records in bankruptcy and federal investigations can result in a fine and up to 20 years in prison. Assaulting a process server and picketing / parading in front of a residence occupied by a judge, juror, law enforcement officer, or any party in a federal proceeding is punishable by a year in prison or a fine, or both.
When is the best time to act?:
Obstructing justice can result in up to 4 years in prison, depending on the circumstances, as well as a criminal record that can have a negative impact on a person’s career prospects. Anyone accused of obstructing justice should contact an experienced New York criminal defense attorney to ensure that their rights are protected throughout the process.
Falsifying business records, making materially false statements, offering a false instrument for filing. resisting arrest.
Mental disease / defect, false accusation, and proven lack of intent to knowingly commit an illegal act can all be presented as defenses., Mental disease / defect, false accusation, and proven lack of intent to knowingly commit an illegal act can all be presented as defenses.
High profile/Government cases:
In April 2014 Ronald L. House, 58, was sentenced in Buffalo, New York to 48 months in prison, two years’ supervised release, and a money judgment of $32,000. House had been convicted in November 2013 of three counts of obstruction of justice and one count of making materially false statements. House was convicted of obstructing two cases by trying to fraudulently provide information to criminal defendants that they could use to bargain for sentencing leniency and, in one instance, for pretrial release. House was also convicted of obstructing justice by making false statements to a U.S. Probation Officer in an effort to deter the officer from filing a supervised release violation against an offender. House was also convicted of making materially false statements to the director of a Rochester halfway house in order to obtain extra freedom for an inmate by falsely claiming that the inmate was going to be with him at a church group, while knowing that the person actually going to spend time with a girlfriend.