When you hear the term "Obstruction of Justice", what pops in your mind? If you are like most law abiding citizens, you probably think of a group mobsters trying to intimidate witnesses or a secretary deleting computer files seconds before a search warrant is served.
Well, the purpose of today's entry is to recalibrate your thinking. The crime or charge commonly referred to as "Obstruction of Justice" should really be called "Making a Police Officer Mad." If you find yourself in a situation where you make a police officer mad, the odds are pretty good that you are going to get charged with Obstruction of Justice. In
Obstructing or hindering law enforcement officers:
(a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, a person who knowingly and willfully obstructs or hinders any law enforcement officer in the lawful discharge of his official duties is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(b) Whoever knowingly and willfully resists, obstructs, or opposes any law enforcement officer, prison guard, correctional officer, probation supervisor, parole supervisor, or conservation ranger in the lawful discharge of his official duties by offering or doing violence to the person of such officer or legally authorized person is guilty of a felony and shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.
Most Obstruction charges arise when people run from police. If you run, you will be charged with Obstruction. What is more interesting is that it doesn't matter if you actually did anything wrong, initially. If an officer has a valid reason for stopping you (an articulable suspicion), and you decide to take off running, you have just hindered his lawful discharge of official duties and you will be charged with Obstruction.
Also, if you lie to a police officer, you will be charged with Obstruction. (lying to him/her is also likely to make them mad). Duke v. State, 205
What that average citizen really needs to understand is the criminal liability associated with "touching" a police officer. If you touch a police officer during the commission of his/her duties, then you may be charged with felony obstruction, which carries a maximum of five years in prision. Felony obstruction requires that you actually do violence or offer to do violence towards an officer. If you touch a police officer, he will conclude that is violence.
As an example, let's assume that you are watching a 6' 4" officer that weighs 240lbs arrest your pregnant 5' 2", 120lb pregnant daughter. The officer has your daughter down on the ground with his knee in her back while she screams for you to help her because she can't breathe. If you touch the officer and ask him to stop, you will be charged with felony obstruction.
So what’s the moral of this BLOG? It’s simple, “Don’t make a Police Officer mad.” If you do, the odds are very good that you will find yourself arrested.
If you need help, call me at 678-383-1690 or visit my website at www.napierlawllc.com. If for whatever reason I can't help you, I'll point you in the direction of someone who can.