Obstruction of justice is a term you have likely heard on TV or at the movies. These references give the general idea that it involves trying to stop law enforcement or the criminal justice system in some way. While that is a close approximation, obstruction of justice is defined under federal law as any type of action that interferes with “the orderly administration of law and justice.” It can occur in a variety of ways but its main intent is to hinder, block, interfere, or deliberately make difficult a criminal justice process, whether it is an investigation, an arrest, or some other proceeding such as a trial. Thus, it is a term that can pertain to law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, juries, witnesses, and government officials.
Resisting a Police Officer
In Florida, obstruction of justice is covered under Florida Statutes Title XLVI Chapter 843. Under this law, obstruction of justice can occur through resisting a police officer either with or without violence. This act consists of “knowingly and willfully” resisting, obstructing, or opposing an officer as well as other officials such as parole and probation supervisors or others legally authorized to act in carrying out a legal or criminal process.
This offense is charged as a third-degree felony when it involves violence. It is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. If it does not involve violence to the officer, it is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Examples of Obstruction of Justice
You can commit the offense of obstruction of justice in other ways beside resisting arrest or resisting an officer who is doing his or her duty.
These examples include:
- Lying to law enforcement investigators
- Bribing, as in bribing a government official to engage in some type of action or to refrain from some type of action
- Witness tampering, as in trying to influence, change, or prevent a witness in his or her testimony
- Trying to get the victim of a crime to change his or her testimony
- Taking retaliating actions against a law enforcement informant, witness, or a victim
- Trying to improperly influence a juror or an officer
- Destroying corporate records that may have been pertinent to a criminal investigation
- Abusing one’s power as an elected official
- Aiding and abetting someone in relationship to a crime or criminal investigation
- Failing to report a crime
- Lying while under oath (perjury)
- Contempt of court
- Falsely impersonating a law enforcement officer as well as using a law enforcement badge falsely
How you are charged and the penalties you will face will depend on whether it is a state or federal matter. These crimes range from misdemeanors to felonies based on the nature of the incident. As an example, trying to bribe or actually bribing a witness in a federal matter can lead to up to five years in a federal prison along with a fine.
Facing Obstruction of Justice Charges in Miami?
If you or someone you know has been charged with any type of obstruction of justice, from resisting arrest in a local incident to a federal matter, you can turn to Hubbs Law Firm. Our legal team includes a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer. This is an important distinction as it means the highest level of professional training that an attorney can attain; fewer than one percent of all Florida attorneys achieve this. That means you will have an expert legal professional guiding your case. Our firm is committed to helping you resolve your charges in the best possible way with the least negative consequences to your freedom and future.
Reach out to Hubbs Law Firm online or at (305) 570-4802 for a free case evaluation.