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Archive for the ‘obstruction of justice’ tag

What Is Obstruction of Justice?

October 22nd, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Illinois defense lawyerThe news cycle has been full of the phrase ‘obstruction of justice’ in recent months, but while it can be a crime that affects the highest officials in the country, it can also be a crime that an average person is charged with when they become involved in a criminal investigation. If you are less than truthful with law enforcement, you may wind up on the receiving end of obstruction charges if you are not careful, and the penalty can be quite severe.

No Physical Act Necessary

Illinois’ relevant statute defines obstruction of justice as willfully performing certain actions, such as concealing evidence or witnesses, or lying to police, with the intent to “prevent the apprehension of” or “obstruct the prosecution or defense of” any one specific person. In other words, if someone lies to the police or conceals or destroys evidence with the intent to stop a criminal case from going forward, they may (at least in theory) be charged with obstruction of justice.

Historically, obstruction of justice was thought to require a physical act – that is, to physically destroy papers or burn evidence or drive a witness out of state – but recent jurisprudence has given modified that statement. In 2012, the Illinois Supreme Court held in People v. Baskerville that lying to a police officer may constitute obstruction – but it is important to note that it does not always. In many obstruction cases, the decision whether or not to prosecute can be a judgment call, especially if the prosecution of that suspect is later successful (in other words, if the relevant information was discovered by other means).

If You Are Charged

If you are charged with obstructing justice, the penalties can be severe, Most charges of obstruction are processed as Class 4 felonies, meaning that they are punishable by between one to three years in jail and a fine of $25,000. In rare situations it can be charged as a Class 3 felony, usually, if the obstruction is in relation to gang activity, but even if the obstruction is related to gang activity it may be possible to seek a lesser sentence, depending on the specific situation.

In some cases, it may be that prosecutors will seek to charge a person with obstruction related to an investigation if they are unable to mount an effective case for the underlying crime – for example, San Francisco Giants baseball player Barry Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice over his statements to a grand jury regarding steroid use (both his own and other people’s), but prosecutors did not have the evidence to charge him over alleged drug use in his own case. This may also be a means by which a lesser sentence can be sought – providing the information that was being hidden can sometimes make obstruction charges disappear.

Seek Experienced Legal Help

While little actions like telling a white lie or warning a friend that the police are looking for them can feel like good deeds, they can open you up to serious legal liability. If you are charged with obstruction of justice in Illinois, you need an experienced attorney who knows how these types of cases tend to work. The skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley can sit down with you and try to figure out a good strategy to go forward. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K31-4

http://illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/SupremeCourt/2012/111056.pdf

Accused of a Crime: Should I Turn Myself In?

September 28th, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Illinois criminal justice system, Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer,You should never seek to hide from the police or try and avoid getting arrested when you know you have a warrant for your arrest. Evading arrest, revisiting arrest, and obstruction of justice are all serious crimes in Illinois. Turning yourself into the police when you have been charged with a crime is often a wise move, if done properly.

Difference between Being Accused and Being Charged

You may want to do the right thing, but you are not sure if you are required to turn yourself in or not. If you have been accused of a crime, that is, someone has said that you committed a crime, but you have not been charged with a crime, you do not have to turn yourself in.

You have the right to not incriminate yourself. This means even if the police wish to question you, you can remain silent instead of admitting you broke the law. You should still seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney, but you are a free man or woman.

If you have been given a citation, have a court date, or have been indicted, you have been charged with a crime. Most of the time, if you have a court date scheduled you only have to show up for court, there is no need to turn yourself into the police.

However, if there is a warrant out for your arrest – this will usually happen in the case of felonies – it may be in your best interest to turn yourself into the police. It is never okay to try and hide from the police. However, you must first talk with a lawyer before committing to any course of action.

Planning Ahead

While it is a crime to try and evade arrest, it is not a crime to plan ahead for when you are arrested. If you plan on turning yourself in, make sure you have things lined up. You will probably need to post bail. You should have someone who knows you are going to turn yourself in be ready to post your bail so you can reduce the amount of time you spend in custody. Make sure you do not have anything illegal, dangerous, or suspicious on your person when you turn yourself in. This includes drugs and weapons.

You should work out a plan with your attorney for the best time to turn yourself in. Usually early in the week will be better than on a weekend.

What Happens Next

After you turn yourself in you will be arrested. Depending on your circumstances, you may be released after you are booked. You may need to first post bail. You may have to spend some time in custody until you have a bail hearing. A criminal defense attorney can go over your specific circumstances with you.

You do not have to face the police by yourself. If you have been charged or accused of a crime, meet with an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney to discuss your case. Your freedom could be at stake.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ChapterID=53&ActID=1876

Resisting or Obstructing a Police Officer

January 9th, 2015 at 9:32 am

Illinois defense attorney, violent crime, Illinois criminal lawyer, Illinios criminal justice statuteAs many across our nation continue to protest against abuses of power by police officers, unfortunately some people are winding up arrested. All too often these sorts of arrests are for things like obstructing or resisting arrest. This is why it is so important for politically active citizens to understand their rights and know exactly what does and does not count as obstruction, so they can do everything they can to avoid criminal charges.

What is Resisting or Obstructing a Peace Officer?

Crimes in Illinois are defined by statute. Under Illinois law a person “who knowingly resists or obstructs the performance by one known to the person to be a peace officer….of any authorized act within his or her official capacity commits a Class A misdemeanor.” This definition is a little bit circular, though, so we have to look at how the courts have defined the crime in practice. The Illinois Supreme Court said in a case called People b. Raby that:

Resisting or resistance means withstanding the force or effect of or the exertion of oneself to counteract or defeat. Obstruct means to be or come in the way of….These terms do not proscribe mere argument with a policeman about the validity of an arrest or other police action, but proscribe only some physical act which imposes an obstacle which may impede, hinder, interrupt, prevent or delay the performance of the officer’s duties, such as going limp, forcefully resisting arrest or physically aiding a third party to avoid arrest.

So What About Refusing to Comply with a Police Officer’s Orders?

A new decision was recently released by the Court of Appeals that has to do with whether it counts as obstruction to merely refuse to comply with a police officer’s orders. In this case a woman went to pick up her son from school. In the process, she briefly stopped her car in a traffic lane. As a result, a cop pulled her over. The cop claims the woman argued with the cop. The cop decided to write the woman a ticket, and he went to his car to call for back up. The woman allegedly started to pull away slowly, but the cop told her to stop and she did. The cop told the woman to give him her license and insurance information and she told him no. Then she drove away. The cop caught up with her and pulled her over again. He told her she was under arrest and that she had to exit her vehicle. The cop claims the mother told him, “I don’t have to do (explicative).” The cop told her to get out of the car again and she would not. The cops then forcibly removed her from the car.

Obviously the driving away from the initial pull-over was a problem. But the obstruction charge in this case had to do specifically with the woman’s refusal to get out of her car. The Court decided in this case that just refusing to get out of the car was enough to convict the woman of obstructing a police officer. In doing so, it said that considerations of officer safety were paramount in the case. A jury could conclude that the defendant refused the cop’s repeated orders to exit the vehicle and that as a result the cop had to put himself in danger, which is enough for the conduct to be considered obstruction.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are accused of resisting or obstructing a police officer you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. You should contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley and schedule a consultation.

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