Obstruction of Justice Federal Defense Lawyers – A Helpful Guide
Obstruction of justice charges can be scary. But having an experienced federal defense lawyer can make all the difference. This article explains obstruction of justice in simple terms, typical defenses, and how a lawyer can help.
What is Obstruction of Justice?
Obstruction of justice is interfering with an official investigation or court case on purpose. It covers lots of crimes – like hiding evidence, bribing witnesses, or lying to investigators.
The goal is to protect legal proceedings. So obstruction charges are about intent, not just actions. Even if you fail, trying to obstruct justice is illegal.
There are many federal laws against obstruction. Some common examples:
- Witness tampering – Bribing, threatening or persuading a witness to lie, withhold testimony, or avoid cooperating with law enforcement
- Destroying evidence – Shredding documents, deleting files, or hiding any evidence relevant to an investigation
- Lying or misleading investigators – Giving false information or concealing key facts during questioning
- Retaliating against informants – Threatening harm to someone who reported a crime or helped an investigation
- Bribing public officials – Paying off judges, jurors, or other court staff to influence a case’s outcome
Why are Obstruction Charges Serious?
Obstruction convictions often lead to felony charges and years in prison. Prosecutors take these crimes very seriously, since they undermine the justice system.
Even simple obstruction, like lying, can get you 5 years behind bars. More extreme cases – like killing a witness – could mean life in prison.
These harsh sentences exist to deter obstruction. The justice system relies on evidence and testimony to uncover the truth. Obstruction throws cases off track and prevents proper outcomes.
Typical Defenses Against Obstruction Charges
Since obstruction requires intent, the main defense is lack of intent. Smart lawyers cast doubt on intent by showing:
- You had no idea about any investigation when you acted
- Your actions were reasonable and you had no corrupt goals
- Circumstances suggest your behavior had innocent motivations
Skilled lawyers also attack the prosecution’s evidence of intent. They undermine witness accounts, highlight inconsistencies, and provide alternate explanations.
Other defenses include:
- You failed to actually obstruct justice – success is not required for obstruction charges, but failed attempts can help show lack of intent
- You were entrapped – law enforcement pushed you into committing obstruction when you otherwise wouldn’t have
- Duress – you were under threat or coercion when you obstructed justice
- Diminished mental capacity – you were under mental distress and did not fully understand your actions
How Can a Lawyer Help With Obstruction Charges?
Experienced federal defense lawyers are crucial for beating obstruction allegations. Here are some of the key ways a lawyer can help:
- Negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges or sentencing
- Challenge evidence and prevent improperly obtained evidence from being used
- Interview witnesses and find inconsistencies or credibility issues
- Request jury instructions that explain defenses favorably
- Present evidence of your good character to cast doubt on corrupt intent
- Guide you on interacting with investigators to avoid self-incrimination
- Advise you throughout the process so you avoid missteps
Skilled lawyers also know how to present defenses like lack of intent persuasively in court. Their experience with obstruction cases gives them credibility with judges and juries.
Obstruction charges should always be taken seriously. But an experienced lawyer can defend you using strategies like challenging intent. They can also negotiate reduced sentencing and prevent self-incrimination.
If you or a loved one faces obstruction allegations, don’t delay in finding a knowledgeable federal defense lawyer. With their help, you can avoid harsh penalties and protect your future.