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At Marin and Barrett, Inc., our team of Rhode Island Criminal Defense Lawyers have represented dozens of individuals facing obstruction charges in Rhode Island.  Our effective and proven criminal defense strategies have helped many of our clients stay out of jail, avoid criminal convictions, and oftentimes leave the criminal justice system with no criminal record at all.

Rhode Island Obstruction Lawyers
Attorneys Matthew Marin, Kensley Barrett, and Nicholas Parrillo 
Available 24/7 at 401-228-8271

We have experience representing clients facing a wide variety of Rhode Island criminal charges including obstruction of justice. Let us put them to work for you.

Obstruction of Justice Frequently Asked Questions:

What is obstruction of an officer in execution of his duty in Rhode Island?

Obstruction of an officer in the execution of his or her duty is a criminal offense outlined in Rhode Island General Law 11-31-1.  Unlike many criminal laws the spell out the certain elements of a crime, obstruction simply makes it illegal to “obstruct any officer, civil, military, or otherwise, including any state, city, or town police, deputy sheriff, or firefighter in the execution of his or her office or duty” but does not define what obstruction actually means.  If you or a loved one has been charged with obstruction, call an experienced attorney to help navigate this tricky area of the law. 

What is the most common form of obstruction of justice?

Examples of obstructing an officer in the execution of his or her duty typically involve conduct that intentionally make the officer's job more difficult.  For instance, if an officer asks an individual for basic information such as his name or for identification and he or she refuses, that could be considered obstruction.  An individual providing a false name or other misleading information is also a common example of obstruction of an officer.  Knowingly lying about an individual's whereabouts or identity in an effort to protect them from the police may also be an example of obstruction.  Occasionally police will charge someone with obstruction simply for running away from them!  The bottom line is that the line between what is illegal obstruction and constitutionally permissible behavior is a thin and murky one, and you need a savvy lawyer on your side to help determine the difference and fight your case.

What is the Rhode Island obstruction of justice statute?

Obstruction of an officer in execution of duty is a misdemeanor and is codified in Rhode Island General Law 11-31-1.  Obstruction of the Judicial System is a separate felony offense codified in Rhode Island General Law 11-32-3.  While the charges are similar, the conduct constituting each is different and the penalties vary in terms of severity.

What is the penalty for an Obstruction charge in Rhode Island?

The penalty for an obstruction charge in Rhode Island is up to one year in jail and up to a $500 fine pursuant to Rhode Island General Law 11-32-1.

Is obstruction of justice a felony or a misdemeanor? 

Obstruction of an officer under Rhode Island General Law 11-32-1 is a misdemeanor offense and carries up to one year in prison or a $500 fine. 

What is obstruction of the judicial system in Rhode Island? 

Obstruction of the judicial system is a felony charge codified in Rhode Island General Law 11-32-3 and is charged when an individual or intentionally attempts to influence or change the outcome of a legal proceeding by illegal means.  Common examples include attempting to persuade someone to either not appear in court to testify or to testify untruthfully at a hearing or a trial; this is often done by bribes or threats of force or violence against the witness or his or her family.  It may also include threats or bribes against a juror or potential juror.  Obstruction of the judicial system is a felony that the State considers a crime against the State, and is therefore taken very seriously. 

What are the penalties for Obstruction of the Judicial System in Rhode Island? 

Obstruction of the judicial system under 11-32-3 is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.

Is destroying evidence obstruction of justice?

Intentionally destroying evidence can certainly be considered either obstruction of an officer or obstruction of the judicial system.  Depending on the circumstances and the nature of the evidence, this could give rise to either misdemeanor or felony charge.

Is perjury an example of obstruction?

While it may seem as though perjury or lying under oath would be a form of obstruction, it is actually a separate with separate penalties.  Perjury is codified in Rhode Island General Laws Chapter 11-33 and is a felony punishable by up to twenty years in prison.

Is falsely reporting a crime or filing a false police report a crime?

Yes, filing a false report of false statement of a crime is considered obstruction under Rhode Island law 11-32-2.  Like obstruction of an officer, falsely reporting a crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison, a $500 fine, or both.  In addition to jail time and a potential fine, those convicted of falsely reporting a crime may be ordered to pay restitution to the person falsely accused for any damage they suffered as a result of the false report. 

Is intimidating a witness or victim of crime considered obstruction of justice?

While not technically obstruction, intimidating a witness is a separate criminal offense with separate and distinct penalties.  The law against Intimidating a witness or victim of crime is spelled out in Rhode Island General Law 11-32-5 and makes it illegal to intimidate a witness from testifying in a court proceeding or testifying falsely. 

Is intimidating a witness a misdemeanor or a felony? 

Depending on the nature and level of the conduct, intimidating a witness can be charged as either a misdemeanor a felony.  Under Rhode Island General Law 11-32-5(a) an individual who either verbally threatens or communicates a threat to a victim or witness is guilty of a misdemeanor and can be punished by up to one year in prison, a $500 fine, or both.  There is also felony intimidating a witness codified in 11-32-5(b) and involves inflicting physical injury as a manner of intimidating a witness.  This felony is considered very serious and can be punished by up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.

Is aiding and abetting a crime considered obstruction? 

While aiding and abetting someone else to commit a crime is not technically obstruction, it is a separate criminal offense and can subject an individual to criminal penalties.  Aiding and abetting is criminalized in Rhode Island General Law section 11-1-3 and upon conviction allows for the maximum possible penalty of the crime that is being aided.  For instance, if a defendant is found to have aided or attempted to aid another to steal a new car – a ten year felony – that defendant is also punishable by up to ten years in prison.  If you or a loved one has been charged with aiding or abetting another to commit a crime, call us today and put our expertise to work for you.

Is harboring a criminal or fugitive considered obstruction of justice?

Although harboring a criminal is similar to obstruction it is characterized differently under Rhode Island law and is a separate criminal offense.  Under Rhode Island Law 11-1-4, an individual accused of knowingly harboring an offender in an effort to help avoid his or her arrest is guilty of a felony and may be punished by up to five years in prison or a $1,000 fine.  There are several exceptions to this law and if you or a loved one has been charged, it is important to have an attorney who understands these exceptions and can use them to you advantage. 

Should I hire a Rhode Island Obstruction of Justice Lawyer?

If you have been reading these FAQs you now understand that obstruction charges can be very complex and nuanced, and can subject defendants to severe consequences.  Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to have an experienced and knowledgeable Rhode Island Criminal Defense Attorney to help navigate these complexities and formulate the best possible legal defense for your or a loved one's obstruction of justice charge in Rhode Island.  Contact our legal team today at 401-228-8271.

Attorney Marin Named A SuperLawyer for Eight Consecutive Years 2014-2021

Attorney Matthew Marin has been named a Rhode Island SuperLawyer for 9 consecutive years from 2014 thru 2022. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in Rhode Island are selected by the Research Team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor. Super Lawyers selects lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement in their practice area.

Rhode Island Members of the National College for DUI Defense

Attorneys Marin and Barrett are both Rhode Island General Members of the National College for DUI Defense. Members represent some of the most experienced and cutting edge DUI defense attorney's throughout the Country. Nationwide, DUI laws are extremely complex and constantly changing and the College facilitates the exchange of innovative defenses throughout the Country.