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What Is Obstruction Of Justice?

You cannot legally prevent a police officer or the court from doing their job to enforce the law and bring guilty individuals to justice. An attempt to keep justice from being served or to delay or inhibit the criminal justice process is known as an obstruction of justice, and this is a criminal offense in itself.

If you are charged with obstructing justice in any way, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced Appleton criminal defense lawyer to fight the charge. The right legal defense strategy could result in your charge being downgraded or even dismissed, keeping a conviction off your record and sparing you from the fines, jail time and other penalties you face. Work with a lawyer who has experience with the court handling your case, which is the Winnebago County circuit court for all arrests made in Neenah.

Examples Of Obstruction

Do not confuse your Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination during a criminal investigation with obstruction of justice. You can remain silent during police questioning and you can refuse to answer any question that has the potential to jeopardize your own ongoing criminal investigation or put you in a position where you could be investigated.

Examples of acts that may be deemed obstructions of justice include:

  • Knowingly providing law enforcement with false information
  • Lying to the court, to a prosecutor or to a law enforcement officer
  • Destroying, manipulating or hiding evidence that can support a criminal investigation
  • Failing to comply with an officer’s attempt to take the individual into custody. This is also known as resisting arrest

Penalties For An Obstruction Of Justice Conviction

At its most basic level, obstruction of justice is charged as a Class A misdemeanor. The penalties for a Class A misdemeanor conviction in Wisconsin include:

  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Up to nine months in jail

Obstruction of justice can also be charged as a Class G, Class H or Class I felony, depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident.

When the following allegedly occurred, an individual may be charged with a Class H felony:

  • The individual intentionally provided false information to an officer or made use of available evidence to mislead the officer
  • The false evidence or testimony is used in criminal court
  • Because of the false testimony or evidence, an innocent defendant is convicted

The penalties for a Class H felony conviction are:

  • Up to six years in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

When an individual causes an officer to suffer a soft tissue injury or other substantial bodily harm in the transmission of false or misleading evidence, he or she may be charged with a Class G felony. The penalties for this charge include:

  • Up to 10 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $25,000

When an individual refuses to comply with a lawful attempt to take him or her into custody, retreats or remains in a specific area and through action or threat, attempt to avoid being taken into custody, and uses or threatens to use a dangerous weapon to continue avoiding arrest, he or she may be charged with a Class I felony. The penalties for this conviction include:

  • Up to three years and six months in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Defenses To An Obstruction Of Justice Charge

Your lawyer can work with you to develop an effective defense strategy for your case. Your defense strategy might involve citing your Fifth Amendment right to refuse to provide self-incriminating information during questioning. It might instead hinge on your belief that the information you provided was true, and that you did not realize that the information you provided was inaccurate. It could also involve the simple lack of evidence to support a claim that you acted in a manner that intentionally obstructed justice or that although the obstruction occurred, you were not the individual who committed it.

Work With An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing charges for obstructing in Wisconsin or any other criminal charge, be proactive and start working with an experienced criminal attorney today. Our team at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC, has experience with both the Neenah municipal court and the Winnebago County circuit court and can help you defend your case against the charge. To start working with a member of our team, contact us online or call us at 920-202-8872.