Obstructing Justice Charges (A.R.S. §13-2409)

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Whether in the Phoenix area, or anywhere in Arizona, per A.R.S. §13-2409 – Obstructing a Criminal Investigation or prosecutions occurs when a person attempts to disrupt, delay or prevent the communication of information regarding the violation of any criminal statute to a police officer.

This can be done by the means of bribery, misrepresentations, intimidation, or force or threats.  This usually occurs when a witness to a situation makes up a lie to police officers to merely get them to go away and not charge anybody.  Many times this occurs when somebody is threatening an officer saying things like “I’ll kick your ass if you try to arrest me.”

Possible Punishment for the Obstruction of a Criminal Investigation

Obstruction of Justice is a class five (5) felony.  It can include a prison-term of a super-mitigated term of 6-months in prison, up to the aggravated term of 2.5 years in prison.  Or, the judge can sentence to probation, which can include anywhere from zero days in jail up to 1 year in jail.  If obstruction was committed with the intent to promote, further or assist a criminal street gang, then it rises to a Class 3 felony.  Punishment for a Class 3 felony is 2 years mitigated in prison to 8.75 years in prison on an aggravated term. Or, the judge can sentence from anywhere from zero days in jail up to 1 year in jail with probation.

Possible Defenses for the Obstruction of Justice

Obstruction of Justice of one of the most overcharged crimes in the Arizona statute book.  In reality, most of the time these cases should have been charged as “False Information to a Police Officer,” which is merely a Class 1 misdemeanor.  Sometimes the officers are upset because they were threatened by an intoxicated person, and instead of charging with misdemeanor “Threats,” they overcharged with an Obstruction of Justice claim.  To appropriately defend these charges, it is important to preserve the officer’s bodycam (AXON) download in order to review the video.  When it is not available, then interviewing all the witnesses who were nearby is critical.  Also, it is important to pull the officer’s personnel file to check for “Brady” violations.  In the U.S. Supreme Court of Brady v. Maryland, the Justices required prosecution to turn over all potentially exculpatory evidence, which includes any write-ups for an officer’s prior dishonesty.

Additionally, because our law firm fights convictions from all angles, we would assert the right range of defenses and challenges regarding constitutional violations which can apply in all criminal cases.  The possibilities are numerous and diverse.  One of those that we frequently assert is a “Miranda Rights Violation.”  In Arizona, the standard of any incriminating statement, (i.e., a statement which intends to admit guilt) is only admissible into evidence based upon a “voluntariness” standard.  If we can demonstrate that the police coerced you (i.e., intimidated or tricked you) into making a confession or an inculpatory statement, or that they did not properly read your Miranda rights, then we can suppress those statements and have any evidence gathered as a direct result of those statements.  In addition, “Denial of Right to Counsel,” is another common defense which is often raised.  This occurs when a suspect is in custody and requests to speak to their attorney, but is denied that request and the questioning continues.

Other defenses may include challenging the validity of any search warrant, or whether there were any “forensic flaws” during the investigation of your case.  Depending on what else you have been charged with, this could include exposing flawed procedures regarding blood, breath, urine testing; finger print analysis; DNA testing; ballistics; gun-shot residue testing; computer analysis/closing hard-drive procedures; forensic and financial accounting reviews; etc.

Lastly, one of the most common defense tactics is exposing sloppy or misleading police reports which include everything from misstatements, flawed photo lineups, witness identification, and inaccurate crime-scene reconstruction.

It is important to hire an experienced Obstruction of Justice attorney in order to really defend these felony charges.  Conviction of this type often results in loss of a professional license, security clearance, finger print card clearance, etc.  In order to see some of our Obstruction of Justice victories, click here to visit our latest wins pages.

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