Congressional Research Service: “Obstruction of Justice: An Overview of Some of the Federal Statutes That Prohibit Interference with Judicial, Executive, or Legislative Activities”

Congressional Research Service

”…………….Obstruction of justice is the impediment of governmental activities. There are a host of federal criminal laws that prohibit obstructions of justice. The six most general outlaw obstruction of judicial proceedings (18 U.S.C. 1503), witness tampering (18 U.S.C. 1512), witness retaliation (18 U.S.C. 1513), obstruction of congressional or administrative proceedings (18 U.S.C. 1505), conspiracy to defraud the United States (18 U.S.C. 371), and contempt (a creature of statute, rule and common law).

The laws that supplement, and sometimes mirror, the basic six tend to proscribe a particular means of obstruction. Some, like the perjury and false statement statutes, condemn obstruction by lies and deception. Others, like the bribery, mail fraud, and wire fraud statutes, prohibit obstruction by corruption of public employees or officials. Some outlaw the use of violence as a means of obstruction. Still others ban the destruction of evidence. A few simply punish “tipping off” those who are the targets of an investigation.

Many of these offenses may also provide the basis for racketeering and money laundering prosecutions, and each provides the basis for criminal prosecution of anyone who aids and abets in or conspires for their commission.

Moreover, regardless of the offense for which an individual is convicted, his sentence may be enhanced as a consequence of any obstruction of justice for which he is responsible, if committed during the course of the investigation, prosecution, or sentencing for the offense of his conviction. The enhancement may result in an increase in his term of imprisonment by as much as four years.

This report is available in abbreviated form—without footnotes, quotations, or citations—as CRS Report RS22783, Obstruction of Justice: An Abridged Overview of Related Federal Criminal Laws. Excerpted portions of this report are available as follows: CRS Report RL34304, Obstruction of Congress: A Brief Overview of Federal Law Relating to Interference with Congressional Activities; CRS Report RS22784, Obstruction of Congress: An Abridged Overview of Federal Criminal Laws Relating to Interference with Congressional Activities; CRS Report 98-808, Perjury Under Federal Law: A Brief Overview; and CRS Report 98-807, Perjury Under Federal Law: A Sketch of the Elements. All by Charles Doyle………….”

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Source: Congressional Reserve Service

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