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What Is Obstruction of Justice?

Obstruction of justice is a crime that results from interfering in the work of police authorities, investigators, prosecutors and government officials particularly when they’re trying to resolve a case. This can be in the form of words or actions and it can be committed by attorneys general, prosecutors, judges as well as elected officials.

Charges for obstruction of justice can be filed when a person is found to be lying to officials investigating a particular case. This person is usually not the suspect.

Another instance when this case can be filed is when a person destroys or alters physical evidence. This is regardless whether or not the individual was compelled to provide the evidence in line with the case. Other conducts considered to be obstructive include intimidating or retaliating against potential witnesses, bribing a witness, preparing false testimony or evidence and interfering with jurors or court personnel.

Under federal and state laws in the United States and in many other countries, it is a crime to obstruct justice. In order to convict a person for the crime of obstruction of justice, the government needs to prove that there was indeed a pending federal judicial proceeding, the defendant was aware of the proceeding and that he or she attempted to interfere with it.

When a person is found guilty for obstruction of justice, disciplinary actions apply including disqualification from holding public office for government officials. In terms of penalties, it varies from country to country. Prison terms can range from several months to years. Fines also differ.

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