NRS 197.190: Obstruction of Justice—Definition, Defenses, and Penalties
Obstruction of justice comes in many forms in Nevada, but basically, it is defined as the act that occurs after a person with “due notice” refuses to give a statement or makes false statements to police and obstructs the officer from fulfilling his or her duties ( NRS 197.190).
This criminal act happens more than people may think and it also can happen by an officer of the court.
If you have been charged with obstruction of justice, it is crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Las Vegas or Clark County who can analyze the case and determine whether there are any defenses that may be helpful in your situation.
The Defenders is a group of experienced criminal defense attorneys that can help you build a case and put together the best possible defense strategy. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation.
What Is A Crime Of Obstruction Of Justice Under The Law
People may think you don’t have to speak with the police and that they can’t force you. In some cases, you might be right; however, it becomes a crime when:
- You refuse or neglect to give information to a public officer when you are legally mandated to and have been given notice to
- Deliberately making false, misleading, or exaggerated statements to a public officer
- Deliberately hindering a public officer from carrying out their duties
What Is A Public Officer
In order to be charged with obstruction of justice, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of who qualifies as a public officer. In Nevada, a public officer refers to any employee working for the Nevada state or local government, encompassing a wide range of roles and responsibilities.
Below are some examples of public officers:
- Police officers
- Council members
Examples Of Obstruction Of Justice
In jurisdictions outside the United States, it is often considered a wider offense of perverting the course of justice.
Obstruction of justice, on the other hand, is a broad crime that can include the acts of:
- Making false statements to officials
- Witness tampering
- Jury tampering
- Destruction of evidence
- Failing to give statements to police
Penalties For Obstruction Of Justice
Obstruction of a public officer is prosecuted as a misdemeanor in Nevada, with a penalty of up to six months in jail and $1000 in fines.
For a first offense, the judge may dismiss the charge if you successfully fulfill the requirements of your sentence, resulting in no conviction.
To avoid fines and prison if charged with obstruction of justice you should contact an attorney experienced in obstruction of justice criminal law.
Also, any officer of the court who notifies a suspect of an investigation is guilty of a class D felony and may receive prison time as a sentence. More on this below.
What Is The Exception To The Obstruction Of Justice Rule
In Nevada, there is an exception to the obstruction of justice law. NRS.199.510 is the exception to the rules against obstruction of justice.
This statute says that the obstruction rules do not apply to privileged communications that take place between an attorney and a client.
None of the provisions of obstruction apply to communications that occur between a lawyer and a client when the attorney and client are communicating within the scope of attorney-client privilege.
The statute ensures that an attorney cannot face criminal prosecution for keeping client information confidential.
Officers Of The Court Are Included In Obstruction Laws
Obstruction of Justice also applies to officers of the court, court employees, law enforcement personnel, or employees who work for law enforcement agencies.
NRS.199.520 makes it a crime for an officer or employee of the court to notify a person who is the subject of any investigation about the existence of that investigation with the intent to directly or indirectly obstruct the investigation. It is also a crime for an officer or employee of the court to disclose to a person who is being investigated any information about the investigation with the goal of directly or indirectly obstructing the investigation.
Officers who notify a suspect that they are being investigated or about the investigation can be charged with a Category D felony and be left with a felony record.
It is also illegal for any court official or public officer to provide information that a search warrant is being issued for a person and to notify them of a possible search and seizure.
Providing this information to possible suspects by a public official is also a felony offense.
Even though NRS.199.540 deals with public officials such as court employees, law enforcement officers and employees who work for those agencies, it also applies to employees of communication companies, landlords, and others who are tasked with helping accomplish an interception of wire or oral communications.
If any of these people notify the suspect of a wire tape or videotaping for investigative purposes can also be charged with obstruction of justice.
The bottom line is that people with official knowledge of a criminal investigation are held to the standard not to impede the investigation by providing any type of information about the investigation to the person being investigated.
The prosecutor must prove that the goal was to unlawfully interfere with the investigation.
Witness and Jury Tampering
It is illegal to dissuade or intimidate a witness.
There are two components to this crime:
- You act with the intent to obstruct the course of justice;
- You use persuasion, force, threat, intimidation or deception either to:
- Prevent or attempt to prevent another person from appearing before any court as a witness in any action, investigation, or other official proceeding
- Cause or induce-another person from attending a legal proceeding or evade the process which requires the person to appear as a witness to testify or produce a record, document or other object
It is unlawful to bully or intimidate or deceive a potential witness into not testifying.
It is irrelevant whether your actions end up having no effect on the outcome of the case. Simply the action of trying to intimidate a witness is a crime in Nevada.
Jury tampering is also a form of obstruction of justice, usually involving providing outside information to a juror, or bribing or threatening or intimidating a juror to influence the verdict of a particular case.
Jury tampering is considered unethical as well as a criminal act.
Facing Obstruction of Justice Charges?
Law enforcement officials must be free to do their jobs without interruption or intrusion.
In an attempt to make it possible for law enforcement to do their jobs properly, Nevada has many different laws that prohibit conduct that could impede police officers and other officials from doing their work effectively.
A defendant who is accused of obstruction of justice could face serious criminal charges and could end up in prison if convicted.
If you have been charged with obstruction of justice it is important that you respond aggressively to the allegations against you to reduce the possibility of being convicted of an obstruction offense and being left with a criminal record.
The Defenders can provide you with the knowledge and help you need to face charges of obstruction of justice.
Our Las Vegas criminal defense team has provided help to many defendants accused of serious criminal offenses including crimes related to obstruction of justice or obstruction of a criminal investigation.
To find out more about our services and the ways we can help you with your defense give us a call today.
We fight for our clients and will do whatever we can to get your cases dismissed or reduced if possible.