The term obstruction of justice encompasses myriad criminal charges that may be filed when a person impedes or “obstructs” the criminal investigation process. What exactly does that mean? The following case provides one example. In 2014, Khairullozhon Matanov was questioned by police after the Boston Marathon bombing. Although he was friends with the accused bombers, he lied to the police about his connection to the two men. As such, he was accused of obstructing a government police probe.
More recently, talk of obstruction of justice has been in the news following President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. More than a few people are speculating that the termination was intended to impede investigations into Trump’s connections with Russia. If this is true, Comey’s termination may have been an attempt to obstruct justice. A Boston defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with this crime.
The following statement is taken from the Federal obstruction statutes and intentionally covers a vast array of behaviors. The statute prohibits any attempt to “influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress.”
Common Types of Obstruction of Justice
Not all obstruction of justice charges are related to high-profile criminal cases and the President of the United States. Let’s talk about regular people…the rest of us. What are some more common types of obstruction of justice?
- Lying to law enforcement. Don’t confuse your right to refuse to answer questions and to request a lawyer with permission to lie to police. Making false statements is not only a form of obstruction of justice, it’s a felony. If you intentionally lie to a federal law enforcement agent while being questioned, you could find yourself behind bars for up to five years.
- Destroying or hiding evidence. The act of altering, concealing, or destroying evidence is a felony that carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Evidence can be a weapon, a document…even an email.
- Common law obstruction. This charge encompasses a more general spectrum of obstructive acts, including persuading a witness not to testify in a criminal case. A MA defense lawyer can help position you for the most favorable outcome if you have been charged with obstruction of justice.
As with most criminal charges, the underlying offense and past criminal history factor heavily when considering penalties for a conviction of obstruction of justice. For example, in the Manatov case discussed above, each of his three obstruction charges carried a potential of eight years in prison because they impeded an investigation into terrorism.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Top Criminal Defense Law Firm in Boston
If you have been charged with any type of criminal offense, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been fighting for the rights of individuals charged with crimes for more than 50 years. Obstruction of justice is a complex charge, and penalties can vary widely. It is crucial to consult with an attorney who has extensive experience in this area of the law. At Altman & Altman, LLP, our knowledgeable lawyers have an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges reduced or dismissed altogether. It is our goal to keep you out of jail, and to keep your record clean. If you’ve been charged with obstruction of justice or any other crime, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.