Under Texas law, obstruction of justice is a charge against any individual, including a peace officer or another officer acting on behalf of a peace officer, who intentionally interferes with the course of justice. The statute reads:
(a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally prevents or obstructs a person he knows is a peace officer or a person acting in a peace officer’s presence and at his direction from effecting an arrest, search, or transportation of the actor or another by using force against the peace officer or another.
If someone takes active measures to disrupt the process of investigating a crime and prosecuting an offender, which may be done to protect someone or to simply change the outcome of a criminal case for personal/familial gain, that’s obstruction of justice.
In this blog, we’ll offer a closer look at the penalties for obstruction of justice.
Different Types of Obstruction
There are many ways one can obstruct justice. It’s important to be aware of these nuances. Lying to investigators, threatening physical force, bribing, evading arrest, destroying physical evidence, retaliating against witnesses, committing perjury in court, and abusing one’s power are all examples of obstruction of justice.
If you’re caught interfering with law enforcement proceedings, investigative work, or any sort of formal procedures undertaken by prosecutors or government agencies, you will be charged with obstruction of justice. Under Texas law, this crime carries a prison sentence of up to five years.
On the less severe end of the spectrum are charges like refusing to identify yourself with your name, address, or date of birth when you’ve been lawfully arrested. Here, you’re facing a Class C misdemeanor, which typically results in fines and, on the rare occasion, jail time.
On the more severe side, if you go to extraordinary lengths in your attempt to obstruct justice by committing additional criminal acts, your penalties increase exponentially depending on what you’ve done to prevent justice from taking its course. For instance, evading arrest is a state jail felony offense on its own; but if someone is killed as a result of you fleeing to escape arrest, it’s a second-degree felony, which holds a prison sentence of two to 20 years.
Further, if a person kills someone in order to prevent them from testifying against them in court for another crime, they will likely face a capital murder charge (since the crime was committed in the process of committing a felony, it is subject to the death penalty in Texas).
Build a Strong Defense
If you were recently charged with obstruction of justice, hire a lawyer as soon as possible. The right lawyer can help you clearly understand both the charges and your legal options and help you build a strong defense.
Attorney JL Carpenter is an experienced criminal defense attorney with a great track record of building aggressive cases for her clients.
Over the years, JL has worked on numerous cases involving drug possession, DWI, domestic violence, family violence, and a wide range of other charges. She’s recognized for fighting for each client’s future and freedom, so you can rest assured that your case is in good hands.
Explore her practice areas and reach out to her when you’re ready to get started. JL serves clients across the Greater Houston area, including in Friendswood, Clear Lake, League City, Galveston, and Webster, among other cities.