What Is Considered Obstruction of Justice in California?

Under federal law, any act that “corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice” can be considered obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice often involves the interference of a law enforcement investigation in which suspects attempt to conceal or destroy evidence, or they refuse to cooperative with law enforcement officers.

Although California law doesn’t contain specific statute for “obstruction of justice,” there are several types of misdemeanor and felony offenses that fall into the category of obstructing justice. The state’s legal system is designed to provide law enforcement with the ability to perform official duties without interference. This means if police believe your actions interfere with how they are operating in an official capacity, then you can be arrested for obstructing justice.

The following California Penal codes cover actions related to obstruction of justice:

  • Penal Code 132 PC: It is illegal to offer false physical evidence you know is forged or fraudulent. Even if the evidence is partially true, if a single piece of it is known to be forged or fraudulent, it still violates this law and is considered obstruction of justice. This crime is a felony offense. If convicted, you can face a prison sentence between 16 months and three years and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Penal Code 134 PC: It is illegal for an individual to prepare false evidence with intent to use it fraudulently in a legal proceeding or investigation. If you break this law, you can be charged with a felony and face a jail sentence between 16 months and three years, as well as $10,000 in fines.
  • Penal Code 135 PC: It is illegal to knowingly and willingly destroy, erase, or conceal any physical evidence that is in someone else's possession. Deleting incriminating files from your computer hard drive during a criminal investigation is an example of an act that violates this law. If you are charged with destroying evidence, it is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000.
  • Penal Code 136.1 PC: It is illegal to tamper with, intimidate, prevent, or make an attempt to prevent a witness from giving their testimony at a legal proceeding. If the charge is treated as a misdemeanor, you can face up to one year in jail and $1,000 fine. If the charge is treated as a felony, you can face a two to four year jail sentence and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Penal Code 148 PC: It is illegal to intentionally resist, delay, or obstruct a law enforcement officer or EMT performing their official duties. This also includes obstructing an officer from interviewing a witness to a crime and interfering with police officers who attempting to arrest another person. This crime is a misdemeanor that is subject to a year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

Our Criminal Defense Team Can Help Fight the Charges Against You

If you have been accused of obstruction of justice, please get in touch with Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP as soon as possible so that we can review the details of your case and build a strong defense strategy. Our seasoned criminal defense lawyers will work hard to advocate for your best interests and ensure your legal rights are upheld from the time your are arrested all the way up until your trial.

If you would like to schedule a free case consultation with our law firm, then give us a call at (800) 462-7160 or contact us online.