When it comes to obstructing the legal process, otherwise known as obstruction of justice, people may be familiar with the term, but very few know what it actually means. While obstruction of the legal process can be easy to define, it can have a surprisingly broad area of coverage.
Under Minnesota Statutes 609.50 Subdivision 1, obstruction of the legal process is defined as:
- Any act that obstructs or otherwise hinders the execution of a legal process or the apprehension of anyone wanted on a criminal charge.
- Any act that obstructs or hinders police officers, emergency medical professionals, or firefighters while they are performing official duties or providing emergency care.
The above two definitions sound strikingly simple, but can actually cover a wide variety of acts. If you are hiding someone wanted by police, then that can be obstruction. If you have a wild outburst in court and fail to heed the order of a judge, then that can also be obstruction.
Penalties for Obstruction of the Legal Process
Punishments for obstruction, like the penalties for many other crimes, will vary depending on the severity of the obstruction. The maximum penalty for obstruction of the legal process raises the charge to a felony and merits the punishment of five years in prison or payment of a fine that is at maximum $10,000. In some cases, both the fine and imprisonment may be used.
However, it is very rare for obstruction of the legal process to be raised to such a level. Most often obstruction of the legal process will be charged as a misdemeanor which can result in a maximum 90 days in jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both. When accompanied by the act or the threat of violence, this will be raised to a gross misdemeanor which raises the maximum punishment to a $3,000 fine, one year in jail, or both.
It should also be noted that the ramifications for obstruction of the legal process go beyond just the legal punishments. If you exhibited violence in the process of obstruction, you may also be ordered by the court to undergo anger management and treatment courses. In addition, regardless of the punishment that was handed down, you will be under probation for between one to five years. Unfortunately, this means it will be shown on your criminal record and thus will appear on any background checks.
What is the Best Defense for Obstruction?
When it comes to obstruction of the legal process, a conviction will depend on if the prosecutor can prove that you intentionally sought obstruct the legal process. This means if someone was staying with you and you didn’t know there was a warrant for their arrest out or if your negligence interfered with the duties of an officer, you won’t be charged. This is what your lawyer needs to argue and prove. If you knowingly obstructed officers or the legal process in general, then that is what the prosecutors need to prove.
When it comes to obstruction of the legal process, even if it doesn’t seem like a serious crime, it can have some serious consequences. This is why you need a skilled attorney to stand by your side and defend you. If you are being charged with obstruction of the legal process, whether it is because you did so knowing it was obstruction or were not aware what you were doing was a crime, contact us today so schedule a free consultation for your case. Judith Samson Attorney at Law is dedicated to being an advocate for clients in Minneapolis to help them resolve the issues so that they don’t face the maximum punishments.
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