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In its most basic definition, obstruction of justice occurs when someone prevents a part of the legal system from proceeding by interfering with government investigations or processes or the people involved, such as investigators, prosecutors, judges, jurors, victims, or witnesses. Federal obstruction of justice covers many potential offenses and is often described as a crime against the justice system itself.
Misleading or lying to investigators is a typical example of federal obstruction of justice. Bribing a government official, destroying evidence, or giving a false alibi to protect a friend or family member are also classic examples of obstruction of justice.
Obstruction of justice has been a hot topic in the news for years, with a government official or celebrity being accused seemingly every other month.
This federal offense can be complicated to understand because obstruction of justice covers a wide range of different actions. It’s also a charge that often stems from an investigation for a separate, original crime.
Remember Martha Stewart going to prison? It was for obstruction of justice – not her original crime – which was insider trading and securities fraud. She served 10 months in prison for lying to investigators, not for financial crimes.
The complexity of this offense illustrates why it’s imperative to hire an experienced federal criminal defense attorney if you or a loved one has been contacted by investigators, whether they’re investigating you or someone you know.
In this article, we’ll explain what obstruction of justice means, the potential punishment for a conviction, and give examples of real federal obstruction accusations.
Because the types of obstruction of justice vary, so does the range in punishment. A federal conviction for obstruction of justice is generally punishable by steep fines and up to five years in federal prison, but there are other punishments on both ends of the range.
For example, under 18 U.S. Code 1512, a person who attempts to kill someone to keep them from testifying in court faces up to 30 years in federal prison. Likewise, a group that pickets outside a courthouse in an attempt to disrupt a trial is punishable by a fine and not more than a year in federal prison, under 18 U.S. Code 1507.
To determine the potential punishment range, it’s important to contact an experienced federal attorney.
Yes, Texas has its own version of obstruction of justice, which is called “obstruction or retaliation.” However, it focuses more on the acts that interfere with local law enforcement. Obstruction or retaliation is generally a third-degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Learn more about obstruction and retaliation in Texas.
Over the decades, federal authorities have used obstruction of justice charges to try bring down politicians, public officials, and celebrities. Here’s a look at a few famous defendants who have been charged with this federal offense and why:
The federal system is much different than the state system. As a result, it’s imperative to hire a seasoned federal defense attorney who has expensive experience defending federal charges. The government can often overreach with these charges, so it’s important to have someone in your corner who understands each stage of a federal criminal case and how to respond appropriately on your behalf. This is not the time to cut corners or leave anything to chance.
Obstruction of justice can be an extremely serious federal charge. If you have been accused of federal obstruction of justice, it’s imperative to contact there an experienced federal defense attorney as soon as possible. Our team has extensive knowledge and experience defending federal crimes. Call 817-203-2220 for a free consultation with a federal lawyer in North Texas.