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Obstruction of Justice

Obstruction of justice is any interference with the orderly administration of law and justice, and the laws are designed to protect the integrity of proceedings before the federal judiciary and other governmental bodies and agencies.

In order to be convicted, the government must prove that the obstruction of justice was directed toward a pending federal judicial proceeding, that the person knew of or had notice of the judicial proceedings, and that the person acted or attempted to act corruptly with intent to obstruct or interfere with the proceedings.

There are numerous ways to be convicted of obstruction of justice, but most commonly it is for the concealment, alteration, or destruction of documents, or encouraging or giving false testimony.  It is also a crime to tamper with a witness, such as intimidating, threatening, retaliating or using physical force toward a witness for the purpose of influencing, delaying, or preventing the witness’ testimony.

After the corporate accounting scandals of 2002, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, prohibiting criminal obstruction of justice as it relates to the corporate world.