White Collar Crimes and Obstruction of Justice
The crime of obstruction of justice refers to any action that is intended to impede government activities, including investigations, trials, and administrative proceedings. Often, a charge of obstruction of justice is tacked on to existing white collar crime charges and can result in serious sentence enhancements, so if you are being investigated for or have been charged with a white collar crime, it is critical to retain an experienced federal crime attorney who can help you formulate a defense.
Offenses that Constitute Obstruction of Justice
There are a number of activities that fall under the general prohibition against interfering with governmental activities, including:
- Using threats or force to intimidate or influence a juror or federal officer;
- Obstructing a civil or administrative proceeding, such as interfering with a civil investigation related to an antitrust case and includes submitting false documents or concealing evidence in response to a subpoena;
- Altering or stealing court records;
- Interfering in grand jury deliberations;
- Obstructing a criminal investigation;
- Witness tampering, which includes the use of force, threats, deception, intimidation, or harassment to prevent the production of evidence in official judicial, congressional, and executive proceedings;
- Retaliating against a witness;
- Jury tampering;
- Destroying or falsifying records relevant to a federal investigation or bankruptcy;
- Destroying corporate audit records; and
- Retaliating against a federal judge or law enforcement officer through a false claim or slander.
Another federal law allows for a sentence enhancement in cases where a defendant obstructed or impeded the administration of justice in conjunction with another charged offense. For instance, a defendant could be charged under this statute after testifying at trial and being convicted of a crime if the court later determines that he or she was untruthful during the proceedings.
Finally, what is referred to as the omnibus clause prohibits general interference with the administration of justice through threats of force or through the use of threatening letters or communications. This law has broad applications and is generally treated as a catch-all provision, although courts disagree on how it should be interpreted.
Because so many different offenses fall under the broad offense of obstruction of justice, penalties vary significantly depending on the actual crime. For example, someone convicted of obstructing a civil or administrative proceeding can be imprisoned for up to five years, although if the offense was related to terrorism, the penalty can be increased to eight years. Witness retaliation, on the other hand, is punishable for between ten and thirty years depending on the severity of the offense. Because federal law allows for sentence enhancement, these penalties are often ordered in addition to the penalties associated with underlying white collar crimes.
Contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
A charge of obstructing justice can have serious consequences, including significant jail time, so if you live in south Florida and have been charged with obstruction of justice, please contact our dedicated legal team at the office of Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. to set up a free consultation with an experienced federal crime lawyer.