If you have been arrested for obstruction of justice, you should immediately retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend you. You also need to understand what this crime is and the potential punishments so that you know what could happen during your case.
Five Ways Obstruction of Justice Can Be Committed in Virginia
A person can commit the crime of obstruction of justice in multiple ways in our state.
Under Virginia Code §18.2-460, it is considered obstruction of justice to do any of the following:
- An individual would be obstructing justice by knowingly obstructing a judge, magistrate, justice, juror, attorney for the Commonwealth, witness, any law-enforcement officer, or animal control officer in the performance of their duties or refusing to cease the obstruction when requested to do so. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- A person can be found guilty of obstruction of justice if they, through threats or force, knowingly attempt to intimidate or impede one of the officials listed above in the performance of their duties or impede the administration of justice. This is also charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Obstruction of justice would be charged as a Class 5 felony if the accused, by use of threats of bodily harm or force, knowingly attempted to impede or obstruct one of the officials listed above in the performance of their duties. It would also be a felony crime for them to obstruct or impede the administration of justice related to a drug-related or felony offense listed in Virginia Code §18.2-460.
- An individual can also be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor if they knowingly and willfully make a false statement or representation to a law enforcement or animal control officer in the course of their conducting a criminal investigation of another person.
- A person who intentionally prevents or attempts to prevent a police officer from lawfully arresting them could be charged with obstruction of justice as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Penalties for Obstruction of Justice in Virginia
You face harsh punishments and the long-term consequences of having a permanent criminal record if you are convicted of obstruction of justice. The penalties could include the following:
- Class 1 misdemeanor. You may be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail, a maximum fine of $2,500, or both.
- Class 5 felony. The sentence for obstruction of justice as a felony would be no less than one year to up to ten years in prison, a fine not exceeding $2,500, or both. However, the judge or jury has the discretion to reduce the punishment to the sentence for a Class 1 misdemeanor obstruction of justice conviction.