You’re probably familiar with the term obstruction of justice, but do you actually know what it means?
Cornell Law School defines obstruction of justice as:
Obstruction of Justice is a serious offense that can damage your record and your reputation. In Tennessee, a person may be convicted of the crime of Obstruction of Justice if the state prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the person:
1. Intentionally prevented or obstructed;
2. Anyone known to the person to be a law enforcement officer;
3. Or anyone acting in a law enforcement officer’s presence and at the officer’s direction;
4. From effecting a stop, frisk, halt, arrest, or search of any person, including the defendant;
5. By using force against the law enforcement officer or another.
Penal Code § 39-16-602
In Tennessee, you can be charged with obstruction of justice on a federal level and on the state level. Tennessee has an obstruction of justice penal code § 39-16-602. Under Tennessee law, the crime of Obstruction of Justice is a Class B Misdemeanor and may result in some or all of the following consequences:
However, if the defendant used a deadly weapon to resist the stop, frisk, halt, arrest, or search, then the crime is elevated to a Class A Misdemeanor and may result in some or all of the following consequences:
Examples Of Crimes Considered Obstruction Of Justice
Examples of Tennessee laws that could be considered obstruction of justice crimes include the following:
- Destroying evidence
- Offering false evidence
- Preparing false evidence
- Resisting arrest/obstructing a police officer
- Tampering or intimidating witnesses
These crimes are wobblers which means you could be charged and convicted with either a misdemeanor or a felony. How you are charged depends on whether you obstructed a felony or misdemeanor case. For example, if you simply provided false information on a relatively minor car accident, you’ll likely only face misdemeanor offering false evidence charges. However, if you’re caught misdirecting the police in a murder investigation, you’ll likely face felony charges.
Examples Of Federal Level Crimes
Examples of obstruction of justice charges that are dealt with at a federal level include:
- Destruction of corporate audit reports
- Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy proceedings
- Obstruction of Congressional and Agency Proceedings
- Obstructing a criminal investigation
- Obstruction of Jurors and Court Officers
- Obstructing Witnesses and Evidence
- Retaliating against a judge or federal officer by false claim or slander of title
The most extreme sentence for a federal obstruction of justice conviction is a fine and/or up to 20 years in federal prison.