South Carolina Obstruction Of Justice Lawyer 

Learning that you might be involved in a civil or criminal investigation is frightening, and sometimes fear spurs people to take unwise actions in an attempt to protect themselves. However, any action that could be construed as an intentional effort to interfere with a civil or criminal investigation could potentially lead to an obstruction of justice charge.

Obstruction of justice is a serious crime under both federal and South Carolina law. If you have been charged with obstruction of justice, you need competent legal assistance immediately. A South Carolina obstruction of justice lawyer has the specialized knowledge and skills to provide effective assistance.

Avoiding an Obstruction of Justice Charge

Ideally, anyone who is involved in a criminal investigation will have legal representation from the moment they first learn of it. Once an individual has a lawyer, their counsel could handle all communication with law enforcement and be present during investigatory interviews. This limits the opportunity for the client to make an admission or other statement that could be construed as obstruction.

The attorney also could handle the production of any documents or other evidence the investigators might request. Doing so offers some assurance to authorities that the documents are in their original, unaltered form. As importantly, a legal professional could negotiate with the prosecutors to narrowly define the scope of the documents they require for their investigation.

Finally, the advocate could provide wise advice about the client’s communications with others. Social media posts, casual comments to friends, and even intimate conversations among family members could form the basis of an obstruction charge. 

What Constitutes Obstruction of Justice?

Under both state and federal law, obstruction of justice is not a single statute but multiple laws that concern interference with the legal and judicial process. Obstruction of justice is a catch-all phrase that could mean lying to law enforcement, destroying or altering evidence,  killing a witness, bribing a juror, or nearly any other action that is meant to impede an investigation or the administration of justice.

For example, witness tampering is a crime under 18 U.S.C. § 1512. Apart from killing a witness, someone might be guilty of witness tampering if they pay someone to leave town to avoid giving evidence, threaten a witness in an attempt to delay their testimony, or harass a witness to get them to change their story. Similarly, any attempt to hide, destroy, or alter evidence in a proceeding could be obstruction of justice.

Regardless of the form of the alleged interference, obstruction of justice is a crime of intent. A person who intends to interfere with the process could be guilty of obstruction of justice even if they fail. A person who successfully interferes with the process might not be guilty of obstruction of justice if interference in the process was not their intent. Intent is difficult to prove, and a criminal defense attorney could use that fact to their client’s advantage.

Defending an Obstruction of Justice Charge

The circumstances that led to the accusation of obstruction determine the defense. Defending someone accused of assaulting a police officer to prevent an arrest is different from defending a person accused of warning a co-worker of a fraud investigation.

What all types of obstruction have in common is that the government must prove that the accused intended to impede the administration of justice. Since it is impossible for the government to know what someone is thinking, the prosecutors must submit evidence of intent. This evidence could be in the form of text messages, written statements, social media posts, witness statements, or admissions. A prosecutor could present significant circumstantial evidence and suggest that a jury could infer intent.

A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney could counter the prosecution’s case with evidence suggesting other reasons for the defendant’s behavior or other possible interpretations of their words and actions. Prosecutors must prove every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, and providing a jury with other plausible motivations could be enough to derail a prosecutor’s case.

Do Not Face a Possible Obstruction Charge Without Legal Guidance

Obstruction of justice is a serious charge that carries the possibility of prison time. Anyone facing or threatened with an obstruction charge requires the immediate assistance of a skilled advocate.

A South Carolina obstruction of justice lawyer could provide effective counsel from the beginning of an investigation to the final resolution of any charges. Do not put yourself in legal jeopardy—consult an experienced criminal defense attorney without delay.