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What Is Obstruction of Justice?

If you interfere with or impede a criminal investigation or the prosecution of a crime, you have committed a crime, specifically obstruction of justice. The act should have been committed with criminal or corrupt intent and the effect of the act on criminal investigation or prosecution should be reasonably foreseeable.

There are many ways in which you can allegedly obstruct justice from telling someone they’re under investigation helping a suspect avoid arrest to destroying evidence. Below, we will discuss the various ways in which someone can obstruct justice under federal law.

Types of Obstruction of Justice

You can be charged with obstruction of justice if you interfere with or impede the court or judicial process if you:

  • Make false claims or slander a federal judge or officer as an act of retaliation (18 U.S.C. § 1521)
  • Influence or attempt to influence, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with a juror, grand jury member, officer of the court, judge, or magistrate (18 U.S.C. § 1503)
  • Tamper with a witness by killing or attempting to kill them to prevent them from testifying, using or threatening to cause them bodily harm, or hindering or delaying the witness’ ability to communicate with law enforcement or testify (18 U.S.C. § 1512)
  • Attempt to influence or intimidate jurors by picketing outside of the courtroom or sending threatening messages/written communication (18 U.S.C. §§ 1504 and 1507)
  • Interfere with the enforcement or performance of a court order via threats or force (18 U.S.C. § 1509)

You can also be charged with obstruction of justice if you interfere with an investigation or law enforcement (i.e. by obstructing a pending investigation, bribing someone involved in the investigation, etc.). The destruction or concealment of evidence is also considered a form of obstruction of justice, and this includes bribing someone else to destroy or hide the evidence, misleading investigators, altering or forging documents needed for the investigation, etc.

Some examples of obstruction justice cases include:

  • Martha Stewart was found guilty of obstruction of justice (as well as conspiracy and making false statements) in 2004. Stewart faced insider trading charges after selling $200,000 of stock in a biotechnology company before a public announcement revealed that their application for approval of a cancer drug was denied. During the investigation, Stewart apparently attempted to hamper the SEC investigation and provided false information to agents and tried to tamper with a message from her stockbroker (who was also involved in the insider trading).
  • Nixon was charged with obstruction during his impeachment. Amongst the articles Nixon was charged with, he was charged with obstruction of justice after conspiring to impede the investigation, conceal the identities of those involved in the scandal, and hide other illegal acts committed in connection with the Watergate break-in.
  • Former professional left fielder Barry Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice. Bonds was convicted of a single count of obstruction after he allegedly lied during his testimony in a grand jury testimony in a case against his trainer (Greg Anderson) concerning illegal steroids. His conviction was later thrown out by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a 10-1 vote.
  • A Texas judge was found guilty of obstruction and bribery. In 2019, Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado was found guilty of obstruction and bribery after it was proven that he accepted bribes (three different times) in exchange for granting three attorney’s clients on bonds; the bribes totaled $6,540.

Contact Our Experienced Attorneys

At Hubbs Law Firm, our attorneys are equipped to help you fight to dismiss or mitigate the consequences of obstruction of justice charges. If you have been charged and/or arrested, reach out to our team as soon as possible. Once you retain us, we can work to develop a personalized defense strategy, advise you of your legal options, and help you achieve the best possible case results.

To schedule a case consultation, complete this online form or call (305) 376-7178 today.

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