In the state of Ohio, there are two types of major offenses that can bring about obstruction charges: obstructing official business and obstructing justice.
The crime of obstructing official business occurs when an individual does something to prevent or inhibit a public official’s ability to perform their job duties. One common example of obstructing official business is lying or providing false information to the police.
In general, any action that is performed with the intent to interfere with the administration of justice can constitute the crime of obstruction of justice. A variety of federal and state statutes cover different kinds and degrees of obstruction of justice.
If you’re facing an obstruction of official business or obstruction of justice charge, it’s important for you to contact an experienced Cincinnati criminal defense attorney immediately. Attorney Brad Groene of Luftman, Heck & Associates can examine your case and fight for your interests every step of the way with the strongest defense possible.
Obstruction of Official Business
According to Ohio law, any action taken to impede or hinder a police officer or other public official from performing their duties (official business) can result in obstruction charges.
The acts that can constitute obstruction of official business include:
- Telling a falsehood to a police officer
- Hiding an individual who is being sought by law enforcement
- Fleeing from a law enforcement officer after hearing an order to stop
- Providing a weapon, transportation, money, or any means of help to hide or get away to someone who is fleeing law enforcement
- Warning an individual of the intent of law enforcement to arrest that person
- Any other act that inhibits a law enforcement investigation
It’s important to note that an affirmative act is necessary in order to constitute obstruction of official business. This means that a failure to take such action, such as refusing to provide information or identification does not constitute obstruction under the statute.
Obstruction of official business is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor and includes some significant penalties. If you’re convicted of this misdemeanor, you could face up to 90 days in jail and a maximum $750 fine. If during the course of the obstruction activity, a risk of physical harm is directed toward any person, the obstruction offense is then classified as a fifth-degree felony, which carries a maximum jail sentence of one year.
Beyond the statutory penalties you may face, you may also incur additional consequences related to difficulties finding or retaining employment, and maintaining your professional license.
Obstruction of Justice
Obstruction of justice involves a person taking some type of action to thwart the arrest or sentencing of another person. Some of the actions involved that can bring about obstruction charges related to impeding justice include:
- Hiding or harboring another person or child
- Giving warning to another person or child of their imminent apprehension or discovery
- Giving another person or child transportation, money, a disguise, a weapon, or any other means to avoid apprehension or discovery
- Providing false information to any individual
- Concealing or destroying physical evidence of the act or crime
- Persuading or convincing any person to hold back information or testimony
- Evading the legal process that requires the person to supply evidence or testify
- Using intimidation, force, or deception to obstruct or prevent any person – through force – from acting to assist in the apprehension, discovery, or prosecution of another person or child
The circumstances involved in your case may determine whether your obstruction of justice charge is leveled as a misdemeanor or a felony. If a misdemeanor crime is committed by the person who is aided, the obstruction charge will be leveled as a misdemeanor of the same degree as the aforementioned crime. The same is true if a felony crime is committed by the person who is aided – the obstruction charge will be leveled as felony of the same degree.
Particular exceptions apply to the above-mentioned penalties. For instance:
If the crime committed by the aided individual is murder, aggravated murder, or a felony of the first or second degree, the obstruction of justice charge will be leveled as a third-degree felony.
If the person aided commits an act of terrorism, the obstruction of justice charge will be leveled as a second-degree felony. However, if a death occurred as a result of the act of terrorism, the obstruction charge will be leveled as a first-degree felony.
If the crime of the aided individual involves trafficking persons, a second-degree felony obstruction of justice charge will be leveled.
Federal Obstruction of Justice
At the federal level, an obstruction of justice conviction is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. If the crime of obstruction takes place in connection with the trial of a federal criminal case, as a defendant against an obstruction charge, you could face five years in prison or the maximum sentence that corresponds to the crime which is the subject of the trial – whichever is greater.
Contact an Experienced Ohio Obstruction Charges Attorney
If you find yourself accused of obstruction in Ohio, it’s important that you speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Attorney Brad Groene of Luftman, Heck & Associates has extensive experience representing clients successfully against a wide array of misdemeanor and felony charges. He will work hard to build a solid defense on your behalf and if possible, fight to minimize or eliminate the potential negative consequences.
Contact Brad Groene today at (513) 338-1890 to set up a free case evaluation.