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Obstruction of Justice as a Criminal Charge

17. What is the crime of “Obstruction of Justice”?

Obstruction of justice is an intentional act carried out with the intent to obstruct the legislative or judicial process. This charge seeks to protect legislative, judicial, and administrative proceedings.

•    Discussion: How do you feel about charging a friend or family member of an accused individual for harboring (hiding) that individual to prevent her arrest? What if a friend or family member withholds or fails to give to authorities any information that implicates a family member in a crime? What if a friend or family member specifically lies when questioned by authorities to prevent an arrest?

•    Practice Question: Barry witnesses a masked individual pull a pistol on two unsuspecting tourists and demand their valuables. He then watches the perpetrator run away down the street. At the end of the street, the perpetrator throws his weapon in the trashcan and continues to flee. Barry walks to the end of the street and removes the robber’s weapon from the trashcan. He likes the gun and decides to keep it for himself. When the police arrive on the scene, they question everyone in the area, including Barry. Barry refuses to answer the police questions and does not mention the weapon he found. Has Barry committed a crime?

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