What is considered as obstruction of justice in the state of Virginia? According to § 18.2-460, it is considered obstruction of justice when “any person who, by threats or force, knowingly attempts to intimidate or impede a judge, magistrate, justice, juror, attorney for the Commonwealth, witness, any law-enforcement officer, or an animal control officer lawfully engaged in his duties as such, or to obstruct or impede the administration of justice in any court.”
In order to be convicted for obstruction of justice, the following six elements must be present. They are:
- The accused must knowingly;
- intimidated or impeded;
- by threat or force;
- a judge, magistrate, justice, juror, attorney for the Commonwealth, witness, any law enforcement officer, or animal control officer;
- who is lawfully engaged in his or her duties as such.
Obstruction of justice is a class 1 misdemeanor.
Punishment of this offense can land you in jail for a term that may go up to one year with a maximum fine of $2,500. There is no mandatory minimum sentence but you will end up with a criminal record and also incur additional court costs.
What happens when convicted for Obstruction of Justice?
- It will leave a permanent criminal record which can never be deleted.
- You will have to incur court costs.
- If you are convicted of a felony, it will lead to loss of civil rights such as the right to vote, sit on a jury, possess a firearm, etc.
- Possible active jail time for a maximum period of 12 months for a misdemeanor or felony conviction.
- The prison time from one (1) to 10 years if convicted for a felony.
- Possible fine.
- Possible period of uniform good behavior.
- Possible community service hours.
- Loss of employment opportunities, current or future.
- Adverse effect on current and/or prospective government security clearance.
- For a non-U.S. citizen, it will affect your current and/or prospective immigration status.
Some of the most Common Defenses to Obstruction of Justice
Statute of limitations for misdemeanors:
According to Va. Code §19.2-8, if you have received the obstruction of justice charge more than one after the incident, the charge must be dismissed for failure to timely prosecute.
If you are charged under subsections A, B, C and/or D and the evidence cannot and/or does not prove that the obstruction of justice occurred in the city or county in which you are charged, the charge must be dismissed.
If you are charged under subsections A, B, C and/or D and there is inadequate evidence proving that you did obstruct justice, the charge must be dismissed.
If you are charged under subsections A, B and/or C and the evidence proves that you did not commit a direct act in order to oppose or resist, the charge must be dismissed unless there is evidence to otherwise convict you under subsections B, C, and/or D.
Get in touch with an Virginia obstruction of justice attorney right away if you are charged with obstruction of justice code violation in Virginia.