Obstruction of Justice


Obstruction of justice is another felony that is a great favorite of federal prosecutors. By bringing an obstruction of justice charge, prosecutors can attempt to convict people who may have been unaware that their conduct was impeding or otherwise influencing an investigation. If you have been accused of obstruction of justice, you need an experienced white-collar attorney to help you fight the charges.

Obstruction of Justice Defined

Obstruction of justice is both a federal and a state crime. There are several obstruction of justice provisions in the federal code:

  • Injuring an officer or juror
  • Obstruction of proceedings before departments, committees, and agencies
  • Obstruction of a criminal investigation
  • Witness tampering or tampering with an informant or victim
  • Retaliating against an informant, witness, or victim
  • Destruction of audit records

Regardless of which statute is used, the prosecutor must establish the following elements:

  • A corrupt state of mind, i.e., a specific intent to obstruct justice
  • An act undertaken to obstruct or impede justice or to influence a government official
  • An impending proceeding, such as a trial, grand jury, or government investigation

 Examples of Obstruction of Justice

As you can see, obstruction of justice is very broad and can encompass a wide range of conduct. Many different types of actions call qualify as attempts to influence or obstruct proceedings:

  • Making a misstatement as part of an investigation
  • Deleting an email that is relevant to an investigation
  • Hiding a document
  • Asking a witness to lie
  • Trying to intimidate a juror or court officer

Because the statutes are so broad, many innocent or inadvertent actions might trigger an indictment. Furthermore, a defendant does not have to actually succeed in obstructing the proceeding; it is enough that they attempted to.

At The Skier Law Firm, P.A., we work tirelessly to defend your rights. Call us today at (561) 820-1508 or send us a message to make an appointment with our criminal defense lawyers.

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The penalties a defendant faces will depend on the circumstances and which statute you are charged under. 

As examples:

  • Under 18 U.S.C. § 1505, a defendant can face up to five years in jail along with a fine if they obstruct a proceeding before a department, committee, or agency.
  • Under 18 U.S.C. § 1503, a defendant faces even stiffer penalties for attempting to obstruct a jury or grand jury. For example, a defendant who attempts to influence a juror when charged with a Class A or B felony faces up to 20 years in jail and a fine.

Even if the prosecutor does not try to throw the book at you, you still face the prospect of a felony on your record, in addition to any fine you must pay. For these reasons, you absolutely need an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands criminal law and obstruction of justice charges specifically.

Speak with an Experienced Obstruction of Justice Attorney 

In today’s “tough on crime” political climate, prosecutors have an incentive to throw an obstruction charge against suspects even when no other criminal charges can stick. If you want to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney in West Palm Beach, please call the Skier Law Firm at (561) 820-1508. Initial consultations are free and confidential.