The Consequences of Obstructing a Criminal Investigation in AZ
Obstruction of justice, an act also known as retaliation, is prohibited in most states. Typically, it manifests itself in witnesses or victims being threatened. A.R.S. 13-2409 covers obstructing a criminal investigation in AZ and the consequences one may face for doing so.
Arizona Revised Statutes 13-2409
Obstructing a criminal investigation in AZ is the act of knowingly using intimidation, bribery or threats to prevent the communication of important information pertaining to a certain case.
Obstruction charges are possible whenever someone lies to an investigator, when they attempt to conceal or destroy evidence, or whenever a witness or a victim reports threats or physical violence on behalf of the perpetrator.
In Arizona, the obstruction is a criminal offense. Depending on the specific circumstances, it will be classified as a Class 3 or a Class 5 felony.
There are many activities that will fall under the category of obstructing justice. A few of the most typical examples include threatening witnesses to keep them from speaking up, lying to police officers or other law enforcement professionals, changing physical evidence, destroying evidence, committing perjury in a court of law, interfering with the work of the prosecutor or failing to uphold the law (whenever the obstruction is being committed by a magistrate, a government official or a law enforcement professional).
Obstructing a criminal investigation can also be classified as a federal offense. Under federal law, the obstruction of a criminal investigation has to involve bribery for the purpose of either delaying or preventing the communication of relevant information pertaining to a criminal case.
Bribery is defined as providing something valuable to a person who is an official for the purpose of making them discharge their legal duties.
The Penalty for Obstructing a Criminal Investigation
According to A.R.S. 13-2409, obstructing a criminal investigation or prosecution in the state will result in either Class 3 or Class 5 felony charges. Class 3 felony applies to situations in which a person obstructs a criminal investigation for the purpose of promoting or helping a criminal gang.
When the offense doesn’t involve violence and the perpetrator faces Class 5 felony charges, the penalty will be anywhere between six and 2.5 years in prison. Whenever the Class 5 felony is the result of a violent offense, the prison time will increase to anywhere between two and eight years.
If obstruction of justice is classified as a federal offense, it will once again lead to felony charges. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, the sentence could be up to 10 years in prison.
Keep in mind that whenever the federal law is invoked, it could apply to an array of additional proceedings apart from court ones. A person may attempt to interfere with the work of committees, administrative agencies, departments and even Congress. In that instance, the penalty could be up to five years in federal prison or up to eight years for obstructions pertaining to terrorism proceedings.
Possible Defense Scenarios
Obstructing a criminal investigation in Arizona is a serious offense and it can make the situation worse for a perpetrator. Luckily, criminal defense attorneys know what it takes to represent such clients in an attempt to either dismiss the charges or minimize the consequences.
One thing to keep in mind is that obstruction of justice can be very difficult to prove. The prosecution will have to carry out a thorough investigation. Witness interviews will also be required. In the event that it gets established, however, it will prolong an eventual sentence.
False accusations and the proven lack of intent are two typical defense scenarios that attorneys will employ. In the second case, the lawyer will be responsible for proving that the defendant didn’t have criminal intent when engaging in the respective act that contributed to the charges.