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Last Updated on: 28th July 2023, 07:32 pm
Obstruction of justice refers to the act of hindering or obstructing a legal process, such as a criminal investigation, court proceedings, or a government agency’s investigation. It is a federal offense that is outlined in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 73 and encompasses a range of actions, including:
Obstructing a criminal investigation (§ 1510)
Influencing or injuring an officer, grand juror, juror, or judge (§1503)
Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees (§1505)
Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant (§ 1512)
Retaliating against a witness, victim, or an informant (§ 1513)
Destruction of corporate audit records (§ 1520)
Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy proceedings (§ 1519)
Retaliating against a judge or federal officer by false claim or slander of title (§1521)
Aside from good faith participation, observation, and commentary, all forms of interference with or influencing a protected process can be considered obstruction of justice. For example, paying witnesses or officers of the court, including judges, prosecutors, and attorneys, to influence the outcome of a case, is considered a non-violent form of obstruction. Similarly, hiding evidence, altering records, or influencing the testimony of employees during a business investigation by the EPA, SEC, or IRS can result in convictions for obstruction of justice.
Less well-known forms of obstruction of justice include injuring a process server, obstructing court orders, picketing in front of a federal courthouse, and lying to investigators.
Obstruction of justice is a criminal offense that involves interfering with the administration of justice. It can be prosecuted by both state and federal prosecutors. In Texas, it is known as “obstruction or retaliation” and is a third-degree felony that is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
When a person takes an oath, they vow to tell the truth. If they are found to have misled or hidden information, they can face the severe charge of obstruction of justice. The experienced lawyers at Spodek Law Group, led by attorney Todd Spodek, have worked with countless clients in New York facing these complex cases.
From grand jury testimonies to influencing a juror, retaliation against a witness, or tampering with a victim, the penalties for obstruction of justice can range from hefty fines to serving time behind bars for up to a decade. The court takes these charges seriously, making it crucial to have a seasoned defense attorney by your side.
While the prosecutor does not need to prove actual obstruction, they must only demonstrate an attempt to obstruct justice. The mere intention is enough to secure a guilty verdict. However, this also means that these accusations can be easily thrown around but difficult to prove. Evidence can come in the form of recorded conversations and written letters, making it imperative to have a competent defense lawyer on your team.
The penalties for obstruction of justice vary depending on the specific provision of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1501-1521 that applies. Some examples of the penalties include:
A fine and/or up to six months in federal prison (18 U.S.C. § 1504.)
A fine and/or up to eight years in federal prison (18 U.S.C. § 1505)
A fine and/or up to twenty years in federal prison (18 U.S.C. § 1503)
Obstruction of justice charges often result in a felony conviction, which can have a profound negative impact on a person’s career and future employment opportunities. Additionally, many people in the justice system and society as a whole view acts of obstruction of justice as a lack of personal integrity.
If a defendant is found guilty of threatening or attempting to intimidate a juror, they may face a fine and a maximum of ten years in federal prison. However, if the offense is coupled with an attempted murder or the commission of a class A or B felony against a juror, the punishment becomes even more severe. The defendant may then be sentenced to up to twenty years in federal prison.
While written communication may seem less threatening, attempting to influence a juror through written means still carries consequences. If found guilty, the defendant may be fined and face up to six months in federal prison.
Throughout history, federal authorities have used obstruction of justice charges to bring down prominent figures, including politicians, public officials, and celebrities. Some of the most famous examples include:
Richard Nixon, who was accused of covering up the Watergate scandal.
Bill Clinton, who was accused of lying under oath to the grand jury about sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.
Martha Stewart, who was accused of hiding evidence from authorities during her insider-trading investigation.
Barry Bonds, who was accused of lying to a grand jury about whether his trainer had given him steroids.
R. Kelly, who was accused of conspiring to ensure key witnesses would lie about his alleged sexual abuse of girls and refuse to testify.
Every state recognizes the importance of preventing obstruction of justice in some form or another. The state codes tend to focus on acts that interfere with the everyday work of law enforcement officers. Some state laws, such as Florida’s, define specific acts that constitute obstruction of justice, while others are written more broadly.
If you find yourself facing obstruction of justice charges, don’t panic. The compassionate and professional team at Spodek Law Group is here to help. We prioritize communication and will always keep you informed and updated on your case. Trust us to defend your rights and protect your future. Schedule a consultation with attorney Todd Spodek today.
Being accused of federal obstruction of justice is a serious matter that requires the attention of a seasoned federal defense attorney. The federal system is much different from the state system, and the government can sometimes overreach with these charges. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced lawyer who understands each stage of a federal criminal case and can respond appropriately on your behalf.
At Spodek Law Group, our experienced attorney Todd Spodek has extensive knowledge and experience defending federal crimes, including obstruction of justice. If you have been accused of this federal offense, it’s imperative to contact us as soon as possible to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
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