What to Do if You’re Facing Obstruction of Justice Charges
Police departments and prosecutors use obstruction of justice charges to try to punish defendants and encourage witnesses to cooperate. If you're facing such allegations, you might wonder what your options are. You should do these four things to try to present a defense.
Confirm the Charges Are Real
There's a huge gap between a cop saying your actions are obstructive and a prosecutor filing formal charges. Police do use the threat of charging people, especially witnesses, to get them to cooperate with investigations.
You don't need to spend a lot of time talking with them about it. Simply ask whether they are now formally charging you.
It's time to hire a criminal attorney. Even if the cops don't seem to be pursuing a charge at this moment, you want to have counsel if they're feeling frisky enough to even threaten obstruction charges.
The smart move is to assume you will have to mount a criminal defense. Foremost, that means you are now done talking with any police officers or prosecutors without a lawyer present. If they're not willing to arrest you, then you should tell them the conversation is over.
Even if you're in a police station, you should leave. If you're at home or out in public, then it is time for the cops to leave. Should they fail to stop harassing you, write down names and badge numbers. Likewise, take a video of the interaction. You may have a later civil claim against the police for harassment.
Don't Touch Any Possible Evidence
At this point, the police are likely thinking very broadly about process crime charges. That means, for example, they might interpret you throwing something in the garbage as the destruction of evidence. Even if you're afraid that something might be a damning piece of evidence, disposing of or destroying it will only make it easier for the cops to stick an obstruction charge to you.
Secure whatever items might be evidence in a secure place. If you don't have a secure location, talk with your criminal attorney about storage options.
Limit Your Conversations
There's a chance the police will want to talk to other people around you about the alleged obstruction. Don't put those folks in a position where they have anything to say. Even if something seems like an innocent thought about the situation, keep it to yourself. Force the police to do their jobs and stick to doing what your attorney tells you to do.
Talk to a criminal defense attorney for more information.