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Obstruction of Justice in Louisiana

Obstruction of Justice Explained

The criminal charge of obstruction of justice in Louisiana can arise in many fact situations. However, it is always a felony charge with serious consequences.  If you have a charge, you may need to hire an obstruction of justice lawyer in Louisiana.  The allegations of obstruction of justice will fall into at least one category in the statute. Regardless of the provision it falls under, the prosecutor must prove it was committed with the knowledge that such act has, reasonably may, or will affect an actual or potential present, past, or future criminal proceeding.  There are four provisions in the obstruction of justice statute that describe the ways the conduct can affect criminal proceedings to support obstruction of justice.

What is Obstruction?

The crime or act of willfully interfering with the process of justice and law especially by influencing, threatening, harming, or impeding a witness, potential witness, juror, or judicial or legal officer or by furnishing false information in or otherwise impeding an investigation or legal process.

What is Tampering?

To change or touch (something) especially in a way that causes damage or harm.

What Qualifies as Obstruction?

First, tampering with evidence with the specific intent of distorting the results of any criminal investigation or proceeding which may reasonably prove relevant to a criminal investigation or proceeding. Tampering with evidence shall include the intentional alteration, movement, removal, or addition of any object or substance either:

             (a) At the location of any incident which the perpetrator knows or has good reason to believe will be the subject of any investigation by state, local, or United States law enforcement officers; or

             (b) At the location of storage, transfer, or place of review of any such evidence.

This is the most common provision alleged. For example, a defendant may try to destroy drugs while being pursued by law enforcement. Another example is when a crime is committed with a vehicle and the defendant then burns the vehicle.

 The next form of obstruction of justice is the using or threatening force toward the person or property of another with the specific intent to:

             (a) Influence the testimony of any person in any criminal proceeding;

                (b) Cause or induce the withholding of testimony or withholding of records, documents, or other objects from any criminal proceeding;

             (c) Cause or induce the alteration, destruction, mutilation, or concealment of any object with the specific intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in any criminal proceeding;

             (d) Evade legal process or the summoning of a person to appear as a witness or to produce a record, document, or other object in any criminal proceeding; or

             (e) Cause the hindrance, delay, or prevent the communication to a peace officer, as defined in R.S. 14:30, of information relating to an arrest or potential arrest or relating to the commission or possible commission of a crime or parole or probation violation.

This provision is usually alleged when the defendant has a trial coming up and knows that a witness testifying could cause a conviction. Therefore, he attempts to influence the witness not to appear. That is obstruction of justice.

 Third, retaliating against any witness, victim, juror, judge, party, attorney, or informant by knowingly engaging in any conduct which results in bodily injury to or damage to the property of any such person or the communication of threats to do so with the specific intent to retaliate against any person for:

             (a) The attendance as a witness, juror, judge, attorney, or a party to any criminal proceeding or for producing evidence or testimony for use or potential use in any criminal proceeding, or

             (b) The giving of information, evidence, or any aid relating to the commission or possible commission of a parole or probation violation or any crime under the laws of any state or of the United States.

This one is pretty straightforward in the sense that a person cannot retaliate against another for giving testimony.

Fourth, inducing or persuading or attempting to induce or persuade any person to do any of the following:

             (a) Testify falsely or, without right or privilege to do so, to withhold any testimony; or

             (b) Without the right or privilege to do so, absent himself from such proceedings despite having received service of a subpoena.

Penalties for Obstruction of Justice

The penalties for obstruction of justice in Louisiana vary based on the type of charge in the underlying criminal proceeding.

  • When the obstruction of justice involves a criminal proceeding in which a sentence of death or life imprisonment may be imposed, the offender shall be fined not more than one hundred thousand dollars, imprisoned for not more than forty years at hard labor, or both. 
  • When the obstruction of justice involves a criminal proceeding in which a sentence of imprisonment necessarily at hard labor for any period less than a life sentence may be imposed, the offender may be fined not more than fifty thousand dollars, or imprisoned for not more than twenty years at hard labor, or both. 
  • When the obstruction of justice involves any other criminal proceeding, the offender shall be fined not more than ten thousand dollars, imprisoned for not more than five years, with or without hard labor, or both.  
  • When the obstruction of justice is committed as described in Paragraph (A)(1) of this Section and involves any misdemeanor criminal proceeding that does not involve an intentional misdemeanor directly affecting the person, the offender shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars, imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.

Criminal Defense Attorney for Obstruction of Justice

That is the rundown on the obstruction of justice statute in Louisiana.

If you or a loved one has had obstruction charges leveled against them, you need to hire a legal representation immediately. Obstruction charges can be difficult to overcome. Mr. Barkemeyer has defended clients charged with obstruction of justice for over 18 years.  He understands that every theft charge is different and every client is in a different situation.  There are many ways to approach these types of charges.  Many times, the client has a clean record and has made an embarrassing mistake.  The client could have a job and personal life he needs to protect.  We know how to help our clients to protect his record and personal life.  Feel free to contact us if you need the best criminal defense lawyer for an obstruction charge in Louisiana.  We have represented clients charged with obstruction in many areas of Louisiana including, Baton Rouge, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Covington, Ascension, and New Orleans. Contact the Barkemeyer Law Firm here.


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DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not formal legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

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