Obstruction of justice charges in Virginia involve interfering with law enforcement or legal proceedings. Obstruction also includes threatening or attempting to intimidate law enforcement, judges, or jurors. Depending on the circumstances, making a false statement during a law enforcement investigation is also a type of obstruction.
Many people who are arrested on other matters find themselves facing additional charges for obstruction based on what the prosecutor or police officer considered to be interference with the investigation or legal proceedings. Instead of accepting the prosecutor's plea deal, talk to your Virginia criminal defense attorney about your case and how you can fight back against unfair criminal charges.
If you are facing obstruction of justice charges in Virginia, contact an experienced Charlottesville criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Virginia Obstruction Statute
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-460, obstruction charges can include multiple actions or statements, as follows.
- Where a person knowingly obstructs a judge, magistrate, justice, juror, attorney for the Commonwealth, witness, any law-enforcement officer, or animal control officer, in the performance of his or her duties, or fails or refuses without just cause to cease such obstruction when requested to do so.
- By threat or force, knowingly attempts to intimidate or impede a judge, magistrate, justice, juror, attorney for the Commonwealth, witness, any law-enforcement officer, or an animal control officer, or to obstruct or impede the administration of justice in any court.
- Knowingly and willfully make any materially false statement or representation to a law-enforcement officer or an animal control officer who is in the course of conducting an investigation of a crime by another.
Officials Included in Obstruction Law
Obstruction charges can involve interference with more than just police or judges. These obstruction statutes apply to law enforcement or individuals involved in the legal system, including:
- Public Defender,
- Attorney for the Commonwealth,
- Law enforcement officer, and
- Animal control officers.
Making a False Statement to the Police
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-460(D), making a false statement to a law enforcement officer or animal control officer is a crime. Many people end up making a materially false statement when dealing with law enforcement without considering it a criminal offense.
Penalties for Obstruction of Justice
Generally, obstruction of justice is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties for a conviction of a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia include:
- Up to 12 months in jail, and
- A fine of up to $2,500.
Enhanced Penalties for Drug or Violent Crime Obstruction
Intimidation or impeding the administration of justice in any court relating to violation of certain drug charges carries greater penalties. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-460(C), threats of bodily harm or force to intimidate or impede a judge, juror, attorney, witness, or law enforcement officer related to a violation of:
- Manufacturing, selling, or distributing drugs;
- Manufacturing, selling, or distributing imitation drugs;
- Criminal street gang participation;
- Recruitment for criminal street gangs; or
- Violent felonies.
This type of obstruction can be a Class 5 felony.
Charlottesville Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing criminal charges in Charlottesville, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney about how to fight the charges and stay out of jail. Contact me today for a free consultation.