Interfering with law enforcement while doing their jobs is the essence of obstruction of justice. Willfully “resisting, delaying, or obstructing a law enforcement officer or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) while they are engaged in executing their official responsibilities is a violation of California Penal Code 148.
Interfering willfully and deliberately with the transmission of communication through a public safety radio frequency also falls under this category.
The state’s legal system is designed to ensure that law enforcement officials can do their jobs with little disruption, and violators may expect to face the consequences if they are seen to be doing so. If you do anything to hinder a law enforcement official from doing their job, you risk being charged with the felony of obstructing justice.
Do not talk to the police about your case until you have spoken with a criminal defense attorney.
Obstruction of justice is covered under the following sections of the California Penal Code:
- You’re breaking the law if you give forth tangible evidence that you know is fake or fraudulent (Penal Code 132). If even a single component of the evidence is known to be counterfeit or false, the whole piece violates the law and constitutes obstruction of justice. This is a high-level crime that has serious consequences. A conviction might result in a fine of up to $10,000 and a jail term of 16 months and three years.
- Preparing false evidence to utilize it fraudulently in a court process or inquiry is a crime under Penal Code 134. A desecration of this statute is punishable by penalties of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to three years.
- Penal Code 135 PC violation is considered intentional and willful if it involves the destruction, erasure, or concealment of tangible evidence in another person’s custody. Destroying evidence is a misdemeanor that may end you in prison for up to six months and a $1,000 fine. It is against the law to delete evidence-bearing files from a computer during a criminal inquiry.
- Under California Penal Code 136.1, it is a crime to obstruct, influence, or intimidate a witness during a court procedure. Possible penalties include two to four years in prison and fines of up to $10,000 if the case is classified as a felony. If this is considered a misdemeanor, you might spend up to a year in prison and be fined $1,000.
- Deliberately resisting, delaying, or obstructing a law enforcement officer or EMT while conducting their official responsibilities violates Penal Code 148 PC. This also includes interfering with police officers when making an arrest or interrogating a witness to a crime. The maximum penalty for this offense is one year in prison or a $1,000 fine.
Defenses for charges of Obstructing Justice in Court?
How your lawyer defends you in court will depend on the facts of your case. Some common ways to fight charges of crimes like obstructing justice are:
Lack of intent: For a person guilty of obstructing justice, they must have done what they did on purpose. For instance, it is not illegal to throw away records or papers without knowing they are evidence. The First Amendment defends individuals’ rights to free speech and assembly. Citizens are also allowed to record law enforcement officials during their official tasks. These are strong defenses to employ if a police officer accuses you of obstructing their work.
Mistaken identity: In a case of mistaken identity, it is up to the prosecution to show that the defendant was the person who scared a witness, made up false evidence, or got rid of it. This can be a good defense, especially if you have a place to be when the crime was committed. Sometimes, the “mistaken identity” defense may be used to avoid criminal charges. When a defendant is accused of intimidating a witness or destroying evidence, the prosecution must also show that they did it intentionally. This is accurate if the accused person can provide a solid alibi.
You still have rights even if you’re being charged with a crime.
It’s essential to know those rights and ensure they weren’t violated when you were arrested or charged. If you don’t know much about your rights regarding police searches, Miranda rights, and being arrested, it’s tough to get your charges dropped or reduced. Don’t try to fight these charges on your own.
Time to Hire an Attorney?
If you need to speak to an attorney, feel free to reach out to a qualified Criminal Defense Lawyer today.
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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.