OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE
A person commits obstruction of justice when he or she intentionally and voluntarily hinders any Law Enforcement Officer in officially carrying out his or her duties.
Obstruction ranges from disobeying a written or verbal command to physically assaulting a Law Enforcement officer or resisting an arrest action. Obstruction can occur in almost any situation where there is some type of interaction between an Officer and a citizen, and while the crime does require a specific intent on the part of the actor, the standard for proving the conduct of the crime is low.
The Statutory Punishment
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 and, upon conviction, may be fined or face up to 12 months imprisonment.
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 for not less than one but no more than five years imprisonment.
Far too often in our society miscommunication occurs, which may sometimes result in conflict. The fact that a citizen is interacting with a law enforcement officer does not mean miscommunication and conflict cannot occur. The difference between citizen-to-citizen versus citizen-to-officer miscommunication is that conflict may very well translate into the crime of obstruction. Because Law Enforcement Officers in the field typically determine what, when, and where a situation requires justice, this creates a low standard for proving that a citizen has committed obstruction. In court, the officer’s versions of events are almost always given deference, making it difficult for the accused to prevail at trial.
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