Is Impeding an Investigation a Crime? Everything You Need to Know

Is impeding an investigation a crime? It’s a question that has been asked time and time again, both in and out of the courtroom. Many people are unsure about what constitutes obstruction of justice and whether they could find themselves in hot water for interfering with an investigation. But the truth is that impeding an investigation is a serious offense that can carry serious consequences.

In today’s world, law enforcement agencies are working hard to crack down on any actions that obstruct their investigations. This might include anything from hiding evidence or lying to investigators, to actively trying to intimidate witnesses or threatening them. Regardless of the specifics of an investigation, impeding it in any way can not only cause serious harm to those involved, but it can also result in serious legal consequences.

For those who find themselves in the midst of an investigation-whether as a witness or a suspect-it’s important to understand the seriousness of impeding it. The consequences of such actions can be immediate and far-reaching, impacting not just the outcome of the investigation, but also the lives of those involved. So if you find yourself in a situation where you are tempted to interfere with an ongoing investigation, be sure to think long and hard before you take any action that could land you in hot water.

Obstructing Justice

Obstructing justice is a criminal act that involves impeding an investigation or legal process. This can include interfering with police officers, destroying evidence, or lying to investigators. In essence, any action that undermines the integrity of an investigation can be considered obstruction of justice.

  • One common form of obstruction of justice is witness tampering. This occurs when someone tries to influence or intimidate a witness to prevent them from testifying or providing evidence. This can include offering a bribe, making threats, or using physical force.
  • Another form of obstruction of justice is perjury. This occurs when someone lies under oath during a legal proceeding. In doing so, they are obstructing the legal process and undermining the search for truth and justice.
  • Destroying or tampering with evidence is also a form of obstruction of justice. This can include altering documents, hiding or destroying physical evidence, or interfering with forensic evidence.

Obstruction of justice is a serious offense that can result in significant legal consequences. Depending on the severity of the offense, someone convicted of obstruction of justice may face fines, probation, or even prison time. In addition to the legal consequences, obstruction of justice can also damage a person’s reputation and credibility.

It is important to note that even attempting to obstruct justice can be considered a criminal offense. Even if the attempt is not successful, the intent to interfere with an investigation can be enough to warrant criminal charges.

Examples of Obstruction of Justice Penalties
Witness tampering Fines, probation, or up to 20 years in prison
Perjury Fines, probation, or up to 5 years in prison
Destroying evidence Fines, probation, or up to 20 years in prison

To avoid facing criminal charges related to obstruction of justice, it is crucial to cooperate with legal investigations and to refrain from interfering with the legal process. It is important to let the legal system run its course and to allow investigators to collect evidence and uncover the truth.

Witness Tampering

Witness tampering is a serious crime that involves influencing or intimidating a witness with the intention of hindering or preventing their testimony in court or an investigation. It is a criminal act that can carry severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

  • Interference with a witness can take various forms, including threats, bribes, harassment, or physical violence. Perpetrators can be anyone, from the defendant to their family members or even their lawyers.
  • Witness tampering can lead to the obstruction of justice, which is another serious criminal offense. Obstruction of justice is defined as the interference with the due administration of the law.
  • There are several types of witness tampering, including witness intimidation, witness harassment, witness retaliation, witness bribery, and witness suborning.

Here is a table that summarizes the different forms of witness tampering:

Type of Witness Tampering Description
Witness intimidation Threatening or scaring a witness to prevent them from testifying accurately
Witness harassment Using abusive language or behavior to intimidate or annoy the witness
Witness retaliation Seeking revenge against a witness for their testimony or cooperation with the authorities
Witness bribery Offering money or gifts to a witness in exchange for their testimony or cooperation
Witness suborning Inducing a witness to commit perjury or lie under oath

It is important to note that even attempting to influence or intimidate a witness can be considered witness tampering and can result in criminal charges. It is crucial to respect the integrity of an investigation and the judicial process and allow witnesses to provide testimony free from outside influence or coercion.

Destruction of Evidence

One of the criminal acts that can be considered an obstruction of justice is the destruction of evidence. This act involves intentionally getting rid of or damaging documents or items that could have been used as evidence in an investigation. The destruction of evidence can be committed by a witness, a suspect, or an accomplice to a crime.

  • The intent to impede:
  • In order for the destruction of evidence to be considered a crime, there must be intent to impede an investigation. Whether the evidence was destroyed intentionally or not becomes important in determining the perpetrator’s motive. Even cases of unintentional destruction of evidence, if they were brought about by negligence or reckless behavior, can still be subject to penalties.

  • The type of evidence destroyed:
  • Not all destroyed evidence carries equal legal weight. If a piece of evidence that was crucial to an investigation is lost, damaged, or destroyed, that individual can suffer serious legal consequences. Evidence that, if intact and entered into court, would likely have been an essential piece of evidence in securing a conviction will be seen as more critical.

  • The timing of the destruction:
  • The timing of the destruction of evidence can similarly affect the penalties imposed on the person who destroyed it. If it is shown that an individual got rid of the evidence knowing that it would be sought after in an investigation, they could face heftier fines and even imprisonment as a result.

The Impact of Destroying Evidence

While some may think that destroying evidence may be an effective way to avoid punishment, the consequences are quite the opposite. Destroying evidence can actually create more problems for the person or individuals who committed the original crime.

In a legal context, the destruction of evidence could imply guilt and hinder the ability of law enforcement officials to pursue the case. The act may also further traumatize victims and their families who may feel as if justice has been denied. Those that are found to have destroyed evidence may face prosecution, hefty fines, and even jail time as a result.

Examples of Destroying Evidence

Examples of destroying evidence include deleting information from a computer or phone, throwing away or burning documents, or hiding physical objects. The OJ Simpson case is an iconic example of the consequences of destroying evidence. During the trial, it was revealed that Simpson had hidden clothes, shoes, and even a knife that could have been used in the murder of his wife and her acquaintance.

Examples of Destroying Evidence Consequences
Deleting incriminating text messages Facing penalties for impeding an investigation
Destroying a weapon used in a murder case Facing charges of obstruction of justice and destroying evidence
Bribing a witness to destroy evidence Facing charges of bribery and obstruction of justice

In conclusion, the destruction of evidence is a serious crime that carries significant penalties. Anyone suspected of destroying evidence can face hefty fines, jail time, and a lifelong criminal record. It is crucial for individuals to understand that they could implicate themselves and put their future in jeopardy when they destroy evidence relating to a criminal case.

Resisting Arrest

Resisting arrest is a crime in which a person intentionally prevents a law enforcement officer from making a lawful arrest. This includes physically struggling with or assaulting an officer, attempting to flee, or refusing to comply with lawful orders or instructions given by an officer.

  • Physical resistance can range from tensing up and refusing to be handcuffed to using physical force against an officer.
  • Fleeing includes running away from an officer and refusing to stop, hiding to avoid detection, or any other actions taken to evade arrest.
  • Refusing to comply can include ignoring an officer’s commands, verbally challenging or insulting an officer, or making threatening gestures or movements.

Resisting arrest is considered a serious offense, and those convicted can face significant penalties such as jail time, fines, and a criminal record. The severity of the punishment may be increased if the individual uses a weapon or causes bodily harm to the officer.

In addition to the criminal charges, resisting arrest can also impede an investigation, making it more difficult for law enforcement officers to do their jobs effectively. When an individual resists arrest, it can create a dangerous situation for both the officer and the suspect, increasing the likelihood of injury or other negative outcomes.

The best course of action in these situations is to comply with lawful orders given by officers, use a calm and respectful tone of voice, and seek legal counsel as soon as possible.

Penalties for Resisting Arrest
First offense Fines up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail
Second offense Fines up to $2,500 and up to two years in jail
Third offense Fines up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail

It is important to understand the serious nature of resisting arrest. By refusing to comply with lawful orders or attempts at arrest, individuals may face not only criminal charges but also increased risks for themselves and officers involved. Seek legal counsel if charged with resisting arrest, and comply with law enforcement instructions to avoid endangering oneself and others.


Perjury is defined as willfully giving false information while under oath or affirmation in a legal proceeding. This crime is taken very seriously in the United States and can result in severe penalties for the perpetrator. Perjury is considered a form of obstruction of justice because it can impede an investigation by providing misleading or false information.

  • Perjury is a felony offense that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
  • The elements of perjury include: the defendant made a false statement, the statement was made under oath or affirmation, the defendant knew the statement was false, and the statement was material to the proceeding.
  • Perjury is often difficult to prove because it requires evidence that the defendant intentionally made a false statement.

Perjury can have severe consequences not only for the defendant but also for the legal proceeding in which it occurs. False testimony can result in wrongful convictions, and the justice system relies on witnesses to provide truthful information. The penalties for perjury are designed to deter individuals from providing false testimony and to uphold the integrity of the legal system.

Examples of Perjury: Possible Penalties:
A witness lying on the stand during a trial Up to 5 years in prison and $250,000 fine
A defendant lying about their whereabouts during a crime Up to 5 years in prison and $250,000 fine
A lawyer coaching a witness to provide false information Up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine

Perjury is a serious crime that can have far-reaching consequences. It is essential that individuals provide truthful information while under oath to prevent wrongful convictions and uphold the credibility of the justice system.

Contempt of Court

Contempt of court is the act of disobeying or disrespecting the court, its officials, or its orders. It is considered a crime as it undermines the authority of the court and interferes with the administration of justice. One of the ways in which impeding an investigation can be considered a crime is through contempt of court, as it obstructs the court’s ability to conduct a fair and impartial trial.

  • Direct Contempt: This is when a person commits an act of contempt within the courtroom itself, in the presence of the judge or other court officials. This could include disrupting court proceedings, refusing to answer questions, or the improper use of electronic devices. Direct contempt can lead to immediate punishment, including imprisonment or fines.
  • Indirect Contempt: Indirect contempt, also known as constructive contempt, occurs outside the courtroom. This could include disobeying a court order, threatening a witness, or tampering with evidence. Indirect contempt is typically punished after a hearing, which allows the person accused of contempt to provide an explanation or justification for their behavior.
  • Civil Contempt: Civil contempt occurs when a person fails to comply with a court order or judgment. The purpose of civil contempt is to compel compliance with the court’s orders rather than to punish the person for their behavior. The court may use coercive measures, such as fines or imprisonment, to ensure compliance.

Impeding an investigation can also be considered a form of contempt of court, especially if it involves obstructing the collection of evidence or interfering with witnesses. This can result in serious consequences, including imprisonment or fines.

Below is a table summarizing the different types of contempt:

Type of Contempt Description
Direct Contempt Act of contempt committed in the courtroom in the presence of the judge or court officials
Indirect Contempt Act of contempt committed outside the courtroom, such as disobeying a court order or threatening a witness
Civil Contempt Failure to comply with a court order or judgment

It is important to take contempt of court seriously and to fully cooperate with any investigations or legal proceedings. Failure to do so can have serious consequences, including criminal charges and punishment.

Abusing Official Power

One of the most prevalent ways that an investigation can be impeded is through the abuse of official power. This occurs when someone in a position of authority, such as a law enforcement officer or government official, uses their power to interfere with an investigation for their own benefit or to protect someone else.

  • Examples of official power abuse include:
  • Intimidating witnesses or suspects
  • Pressuring the prosecutor to drop charges or lessen penalties
  • Suppressing evidence

In many cases, the person abusing their power is doing so to cover up their own wrongdoing or to protect someone close to them. This type of behavior is a serious crime and can result in severe consequences for the perpetrator.

It is important to note that not all actions taken by officials are considered an abuse of power. For example, if a law enforcement officer follows standard procedures during an investigation, such as mirandizing a suspect or conducting a lawful search, they are not committing a crime.

Examples of Abusing Official Power

There have been numerous examples of officials abusing their power to impede investigations throughout history. One well-known case is the Watergate scandal, where President Nixon and members of his administration were found to have obstructed justice and abused their power to cover up their involvement in the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

Another recent example is the case of Harvey Weinstein, where he was accused of using his power and influence in the film industry to intimidate and silence women who came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct.

Consequences of Abusing Official Power

The consequences of abusing official power can be severe, depending on the severity of the crime and the position of the perpetrator. Some possible consequences include:

Consequence Description
Levied fines Individuals found guilty of abusing official power may be required to pay fines as punishment.
Imprisonment Depending on the severity of the crime, the perpetrator may face a prison sentence in addition to fines.
Loss of job or position If the perpetrator is a government official or law enforcement officer, they may be fired or stripped of their position as a result of their actions.
Loss of reputation Abusing official power can result in significant damage to the individual’s reputation and future career prospects.

In conclusion, abusing official power is a serious crime and can have severe consequences for those found guilty. It is important for individuals in positions of power to act honestly and with integrity to avoid impeding investigations and undermining the justice system.

FAQs: Is Impeding an Investigation a Crime?

1. What does it mean to impede an investigation?
Impeding an investigation refers to interfering with or obstructing an ongoing investigation by hindering the work of law enforcement officers, destruction of evidence, providing false information, or intimidating a witness.

2. Is impeding an investigation a crime?
Yes. Impeding an investigation is considered a serious crime. It could result in severe penalties, including fines and jail time.

3. What are the consequences of impeding an investigation?
If found guilty of impeding an investigation, you could face severe consequences, including imprisonment, hefty fines, and a criminal record that could impact your future opportunities.

4. What types of investigations can be impeded?
Investigations on a wide range of crimes can be impeded, including drug trafficking, homicide, theft, and other criminal activities.

5. What is the punishment for obstructing justice?
Punishments for impeding an investigation can vary depending on the severity of the crime. It could result in a fine, state imprisonment, or even federal imprisonment.

6. How can someone impeding an investigation be caught?
Usually, impeding an investigation could be noticed through different ways, including catching the person red-handed or investigating the case further by using forensics and other tools.

7. Can an individual impede an investigation unknowingly?
Sometimes, individuals may unknowingly impede an investigation, but this does not exonerate them from facing the charges of impeding the police investigation.

8. Is it wise to impede an investigation?
No. Impeding an investigation is never a good idea, and it could only make the situation worse. It’s always in the best interest of the public to assist the police with relevant information and help bring criminals to justice.

Impeding an Investigation: A Serious Crime

We hope this article has answered your questions about impeding an investigation. Remember, interfering with an ongoing investigation is a serious crime and can result in severe penalties. The best way to help law enforcement is by providing them with relevant information as soon as possible. Thanks for reading and come back for more informative content!