OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE OFFENSES

Obstruction of justice offense are generally crimes of dishonesty. These offenses threaten the healthy administration of justice in our society. Some of these offenses include:

  • Bribery
  • Intimidation
  • Retaliation
  • Perjury
  • Falsification
  • Obstructing justice
  • Obstructing official business
  • Resisting arrest
  • Tampering with evidence
  • Deriliction of duty
  • Interfering with civil rights

Bribery

BRIBERY refers to the unfair and unjust payment to public officials and others in exchange for favors. For example, it is illegal for a person, with purpose to corrupt improperly influence a public servant or party official, to promise, offer, or give any valuable thing or valuable benefit. The same applies to influencing witnesses to testify in a particular manner.

BRIBERY possible penalties:

  • F3 (felony of the third degree)

INTIMIDATION

The offense of INTIMIDATION makes it illegal to knowingly and by force, by unlawful threat of harm to any person or property, or by filing, recording, or otherwise using a materially false or fraudulent writing with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner, to attempt to influence, intimidate, or hinder a public servant, party official, or witness in the discharge of the person's duty.  Ohio law also criminalizes INTIMIDATION directed towards the victim, a witness, or an attorney in a criminal proceeding,

INTIMIDATION possible penalties:

  • F3 (felony of the third degree)
  • M1 (misdemeanor of the first degree)

RETALIATION

The offense of RETALIATION makes it illegal to retaliate against persons or property purposely and by force or by unlawful threat of harm. Specficially, it is illegal to retaliate against:

  • A public servant, a party official, or an attorney or witness who was involved in a civil or criminal action or proceeding because the public servant, party official, attorney, or witness discharged the duties of the public servant, party official, attorney, or witness.
  • The victim of a crime because the victim filed or prosecuted criminal charges.

RETALIATION possible penalties:

  • F3 (felony of the third degree)

PERJURY

PERJURY outlaws making materially false statements while under oath. Specifically, during an official proceeding (e.g., jury trial) it is illegal for a person to knowingly make a false statement under oath or affirmation, or knowingly swear or affirm the truth of a false statement previously made, when either statement is “material.” A “material statement” is one that can affect the outcome of the proceeding.

PERJURY possible penalties:

  • F3 (felony of the third degree)

FALSIFICATION

FALSIFICATION is a crime of dishonesty that involves an individual making a false statement. This offense comes in many different varieties, depending on the matter that is falsified. FALSIFICATION can come from many kinds of false statements. Specifically, it is illegal for a person to knowingly make a false statement, or knowingly swear or affirm the truth of a false statement previously made, if the statement is:

  • In any official proceeding.

  • With purpose to incriminate another.

  • With purpose to mislead a public official in performing the public official's official function.

  • With purpose to secure the payment of benefits administered by a governmental agency or paid out of a public treasury.

  • With purpose to secure the issuance by a governmental agency of a license, permit, authorization, certificate, registration, release, or provider agreement.

  • Sworn or affirmed before a notary public or another person empowered to administer oaths.

  • In writing on or in connection with a report or return that is required or authorized by law.

  • In writing and is made with purpose to extend to or bestow upon the offender any other valuable benefit or distinction, when the person to whom the statement is directed relies upon it to that person’s detriment.

  • Made with purpose to commit or facilitate the commission of a theft offense.

  • Knowingly made to a probate court in connection with any action, proceeding, or other matter within its jurisdiction, either orally or in a written document, including an application, petition, complaint, or other pleading, or an inventory, account, or report.

  • Made on an account, form, record, stamp, label, or other writing that is required by law.

  • Made in connection with the purchase of a firearm, and in conjunction with the furnishing to the seller of the firearm of a fictitious or altered  document that contains false information about the purchaser’s identity.

  • Made in a document or instrument of writing that purports to be a judgment, lien, or claim of indebtedness and is filed or recorded with the secretary of state, a county recorder, or the clerk of a court of record.

  • Made in an application filed with a county sheriff in order to obtain or renew a concealed handgun license.

  • In connection with the person’s purchase of cigarettes or tobacco products in a delivery sale.

FALSIFICATION possible penalties:

  • F3 (felony of the third degree)
  • F4 (felony of the fourth degree)
  • F5 (felony of the fifth degree)
  • M1 (misdemeanor of the first degree)

OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE

The offense of OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE makes it illegal for a person to purposely hinder the discovery, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of another for crime or to assist another to benefit from the commission of a crime. To "obstruct" justice, a person must do one of the following acts:

  • Harbor or conceal the other person;

  • Provide the other person with money, transportation, a weapon, a disguise, or other means of avoiding discovery or apprehension;

  • Warn the other person of impending discovery or apprehension;

  • Destroy or conceal physical evidence of the crime or act, or induce any person to withhold testimony or information or to elude legal process summoning the person to testify or supply evidence;

  • Communicate false information to any person;

  • Prevent or obstruct any person, by means of force, intimidation, or deception, from performing any act to aid in the discovery, apprehension, or prosecution of the other person

OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE possible penalties:

  • F1 (felony of the first degree)
  • F2 (felony of the second degree)
  • F3 (felony of the third degree)
  • F5 (felony of the fifth degree)
  • Can be a misdemeanor if the underlying crime that was committed was a misdemeanor.

OBSTRUCTING OFFICIAL BUSINESS

OBSTRUCTING OFFICIAL BUSINESS is the act of impeding or preventing a law enforcement officer from doing their job. Specifically, it is illegal for an person, without privilege to do so and with purpose to prevent, obstruct, or delay the performance by a public official of any authorized act within their official capacity, to do any act that hampers or impedes a public official in the performance of their lawful duties.

OBSTRUCTING OFFICIAL BUSINESS possible penalties:

  • F5 (felony of the fifth degree)
  • M2 (misdemeanor of the second degree)

RESISTING ARREST

RESISTING ARREST occurs when a person who is being placed under arrest by a law enforcement officer tries to prevent the officer from making the arrest. The officer attempting to make the arrest must have a lawful basis to do so. Depending on the level of physical resistance, RESISTING ARREST may also constitute a felony criminal offense known as ASSAULT ON A PEACE OFFICER. The officer attempting to make the arrest must have a lawful basis to do so. It is illegal for a person, recklessly or by force, to resist or interfere with a lawful arrest of themselves or another.

RESISTING ARREST possible penalties:

  • F4 (felony of the fourth degree)
  • M1 (misdemeanor of the first degree)
  • M2 (misdemeanor of the second degree)

TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE

When a person tries to hide or destroy evidence that may be used in a later prosecution, that act may constitute TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE.  This offense makes it illegal for a person, who knows that an official proceeding or investigation is in progress or imminent, to:

  • Alter, destroy, conceal, or remove any record, document, or thing, with purpose to impair its value or availability as evidence; or
  • Make, present, or use any record, document, or thing, knowing it to be false and with purpose to mislead a public official, or with purpose to corrupt the outcome of any the official proceeding or investigation.

TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE possible penalties:

  • F3 (felony of the third degree)

DERELICTION OF DUTY

The offense of DERELICTION OF DUTY refers to a public official’s improper act or failure to act, in violation of their oath to uphold their respective office. Generally, it is illegal for any public servant to recklessly fail to perform a duty expressly imposed by law with respect to the public servant's office, or recklessly do any act expressly forbidden by law with respect to the public servant's office. DERELICTION OF DUTY also prohibits specific public servants -- law enforcement officers, judicial officers, corrections officers -- from failing to act in certain circumstances.

  • For law enforcement officers, it is illegal to:
    • Negligently fail to serve a lawful warrant without delay;
    • Negligently fail to prevent or halt the commission of an offense or to apprehend an offender, when it is in the law enforcement officer's power to do so alone or with available assistance; or
    • Negligently fail to perform a lawful duty in a criminal case or proceeding.
  • For judicial officers, it is illegal to:
    • Negligently fail to perform a lawful duty in a criminal case or proceeding.
  • For corrections officers, it is illegal to:
    • Negligently allow the detention facility to become littered or unsanitary;
    • Negligently fail to provide persons confined in the detention facility with adequate food, clothing, bedding, shelter, and medical attention;
    • Negligently fail to control an unruly prisoner, or to prevent intimidation of or physical harm to a prisoner by another;
    • Negligently allow a prisoner to escape;
    • Negligently fail to observe any lawful and reasonable regulation for the management of the detention facility.

DERELICTION OF DUTY possible penalties:

  • M2 (misdemeanor of the second degree)

INTERFERING WITH CIVIL RIGHTS

A public official who interferes with a citizen's constitutional or statutory rights may be guilty of INTERFERING WITH CIVIL RIGHTS. Generally, it is illegal for a public servant, under color of her or his office, employment, or authority, to knowingly deprive, or conspire or attempt to deprive any person, of a constitutional or statutory right. Such conduct may also give rise to a civil lawsuit against the public official and the governmental entity.

INTERFERING WITH CIVIL RIGHTS possible penalties:

  • M1 (misdemeanor of the first degree)

COLUMBUS OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE ATTORNEY

Contact The Stavroff Law Firm today to learn about your rights and begin building your defense.