Obstruction of justice is a complex and broad concept regarding interfering with the process of justice.
Anyone that interferes with a legal act or legal proceeding has committed obstruction of justice. The charge is not limited to those currently involved in legal proceedings.
What is obstruction of justice?
Obstruction of justice includes any act that is an attempt to threaten or influence jurors or officers in an official proceeding. Any act that corruptly or by threat influences, obstructs or impedes the administration of justice is also an obstruction of justice.
What crimes qualify as obstruction of justice?
There are myriad ways that one could potentially commit obstruction of justice.
- Obstructing or assaulting a process server
- Obstructing the execution of a court order
- Interfering with state or local law enforcement in their duties
- False witness statements to officials
- Witness tampering
- Retaliation against a witness
- Jury tampering
- Falsifying evidence
- Destruction of evidence
Under Minnesota law, obstruction can be a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony charge.
How does an obstruction of justice charge occur?
Obstruction of justice often is an attempt to affect the outcome of an existing case, but a person can commit this crime without a court case pending. There is no requirement for a person to be guilty of another crime in order to commit obstruction.
Obstruction of justice is punishable by fines, loss of civil rights and imprisonment. The severity of the penalties depends on many factors, including what type of obstruction occurred, if it involved terrorism and if it involved violence or a threat to someone’s life.