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Law on Obstruction of Justice in Indiana 

Obstruction of justice is a term that often echoes through the halls of courthouses and legal offices, carrying with it the weight of potential penalties and the complexity of legal defenses. In Indiana, as in many other jurisdictions, this charge encompasses a range of activities that interfere with the operations of law enforcement, the judicial process, or the administration of justice. From tampering with evidence to intimidating witnesses or jurors, the spectrum of actions considered as obstruction of justice in Indiana is broad, and the implications for those accused can be significant. 

As criminal defense lawyers dedicated to defending the rights and freedoms of individuals in Indiana, it is imperative to approach cases of alleged obstruction of justice with a nuanced understanding of both state and federal laws. However, understanding the legal framework is just the beginning. Each case of obstruction of justice carries its own unique set of facts and circumstances, requiring a tailored defense strategy that considers all possible angles—from challenging the validity of the evidence presented by the prosecution to questioning the intent behind the accused’s actions.  

The stakes in obstruction of justice cases are undeniably high. Convictions can lead to severe penalties, including hefty fines and imprisonment, not to mention the lasting impact on an individual’s reputation and future opportunities. Thankfully, the experienced Indianapolis criminal defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are adept at navigating the intricacies of these cases with precision and diligence. Given this, if you’re in need of a skilled legal advocate who is willing to work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome in the case against you, do not hesitate to contact our firm at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.  

Looking for a Criminal Defense Attorney in Indiana? Call Keffer Hirschauer LLP Today.

Indiana Code on Obstruction of Justice 

The criminal offense of obstruction of justice is defined in Indiana Code 35-44.1-2-2. Under this section of the law, a person may be charged with a Level 6 felony if they are believed to have taken any of the following actions:  

  1. Knowingly or intentionally induce, by threat, coercion, false statement, or offer of goods, services or anything of value, a witness or informant in a legal proceeding or administrative or criminal investigation to:  
    • Withhold or unreasonably delay in producing any testimony, information, document or thing that the witness or informant is legally required to produce; 
    • Avoid legal process summoning the person to testify or supply evidence; 
    • Absent the person from a proceeding or investigation to which the person has been legally summoned; 
    • Give a false or materially misleading statement; 
  2. Knowingly or intentionally in a legal proceeding or an administrative or criminal investigation:  
    • Withholds or unreasonably delays in producing testimony, information, document, or thing after a court orders the person to produce the testimony, information, document, or thing;  
    • Avoids legal process summoning the person to testify or supply evidence; or 
    • Absents the person from a proceeding or investigation to which the person has been legally summoned; 
  3. Alters, damages, or removes any record, document, or thing, with intent to prevent it from being produced or used as evidence in any legal proceeding or administrative or criminal investigation; 
  4. Makes, presents, or uses a false record, document or thing, with intent to prevent it from being produced or used as evidence in any legal proceeding or administrative or criminal investigation;  
  5. Makes, presents or uses a false record, document, or thing with intent that the record, document, or thing, material to the point in question, appear in evidence in a legal proceeding or an administrative or criminal investigation to mislead a public servant; 
  6. Communicates with a juror otherwise than authorized by law, with intent to influence the juror regarding any matter that is or may be brought before the juror; or 
  7. Being employed by a court or law enforcement agency, notifies the subject of a warrant of the warrant, with the intent to interfere with the execution of the warrant 

In addition, it is important to understand that, under some circumstances, a person may be charged with a Level 5 felony for obstruction of justice in Indiana. This may occur when, during an investigation or pendency of a “domestic violence or child abuse case” a person knowingly or intentionally (a) offers, gives, or promises any benefit to; (b) communicates a threated to; or (c) intimidates, unlawfully influences, or unlawfully persuades; “any witness to abstain from attending or giving testimony, or to give a false or materially misleading statement, at any hearing, trial, deposition, probation, or other criminal proceeding, or from giving testimony or other statements, including give a false or materially misleading statement, to a court or law enforcement officer.”  

For the purposes of this section of Indiana law, “domestic violence or child abuse case” shall be understood to mean any case involving allegations of a crime involving domestic or family violence under Indiana Code 35-31.5-2-76 or domestic violence under Indiana Code 35-31.5-2-78, provided that the crime involves a family or household member, as defined by Indiana Code 35-31.5-2-128. In addition, a “domestic violence or child abuse case,” for the purposes of this law, may also apply to allegations of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or child neglect, including crimes listed in Indiana Code 35-31.5-2-76 that involve a victim under the age of 18 at the time of the offense, regardless of whether the victim is a “family or household member.”  

Individuals Exempt from Criminal Charges for Obstruction of Justice 

As provided by the law on obstruction of justice in Indiana, there are some individuals who are exempt from prosecution. This includes an attorney, investigator, law enforcement officer, or judge, provided that the individual is engaged in their professional or official duties when the actions in question take place. In addition, an attorney, physician, member of the clergy, husband or wife, or a person who qualifies for special privilege under Indiana Code 34-46-4 may not be prosecuted for withholds or unreasonably delays producing any testimony, information, document or thing after a court orders the person to produce it.  

Defending Against Charges of Obstruction of Justice 

In the realm of criminal law, the charge of obstruction of justice in Indiana stands as a formidable accusation, one that encompasses a broad spectrum of actions deemed to hinder or impede the process of justice. As previously addressed in this post, actions that may constitution this offense can include providing false information to law enforcement, destroying evidence, or any other efforts that could significantly impact the investigation or prosecution of a criminal case. Given the felonious nature of these charges, it’s crucial for individuals accused of obstruction of justice to seek the expertise of a seasoned Indiana criminal defense lawyer. Here, we’ll explore several defense strategies that may be employed to protect the rights and future of the accused. 

Challenging the Evidence: A foundational defense strategy involves closely scrutinizing the evidence presented by the prosecution. A skilled defense attorney will meticulously examine whether the evidence was lawfully obtained, ensuring that no constitutional rights were violated during the process. Any irregularities or procedural errors could potentially weaken the prosecution’s case, offering a pathway to disputing the charges against the accused. 

Questioning the Intent: Indiana law requires that, for an obstruction of justice charge to hold, the accused must have acted with the specific intent to obstruct justice. This nuance opens a strategic avenue for defense, where the lawyer can argue that the accused did not have the requisite intent to impede or obstruct the legal process. Demonstrating that any actions taken were not done with the purpose of hindering justice can be a potent defense. 

Proving Lack of Knowledge: Tied closely to intent, another possible defense is proving the accused was unaware that their actions could obstruct justice. If a defense lawyer can convincingly argue that the individual did not know their actions were illegal or could potentially interfere with a criminal investigation, it may be possible to mitigate the charges or even secure an acquittal. 

Demonstrating Coercion or Duress: In certain cases, individuals may commit acts that obstruct justice due to coercion or duress — effectively, they were forced into these actions against their will. A defense attorney can argue that the accused was under significant pressure or threat, thereby challenging the voluntary nature of the obstructive actions. This defense acknowledges the act but disputes the culpability due to the circumstances under which it was performed. 

Highlighting Lawful Conduct: At times, what the prosecution may perceive as obstruction could, in fact, be lawful conduct. For instance, asserting one’s right to remain silent or seeking legal counsel cannot be rightfully construed as obstructing justice. A defense strategy may involve clarifying the legality of the accused’s actions, emphasizing that exercising constitutional rights or engaging in legitimate activities does not constitute obstruction. 

Charged with Obstruction of Justice in Indiana? 

Facing charges of obstruction of justice in Indiana is a serious matter, but it’s important to understand that accusations are not convictions. With the assistance of a knowledgeable Indiana defense attorney, various strategies can be deployed to challenge the charges. Whether through challenging the evidence, questioning the intent, proving lack of knowledge, demonstrating coercion, or highlighting lawful conduct, an adept defense can make a significant difference in the outcome of the case.  

The experienced and skilled criminal defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP understand what’s at stake when you’ve been charged with a felony offense in Indiana. Therefore, our team is prepared to employ every resource at our disposal to defend your rights. We have handled cases involving obstruction of justice in the past and are adept at crafting strategic defenses tailored to the unique circumstances of each case that we take on. So, if you’re in need of legal representation, do not hesitate to contact our firm today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our defense attorneys stans ready to defend, support, and guide you through every step of the process, ensuring that your rights are protected, and your voice is heard. 

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