You may be arrested if you knowingly hinder, impair, or obstruct a governmental function’s performance by an officially acting public servant. It’s also unlawful to knowingly hinder, impair, or obstruct the preservation of the peace or enforcement of penal law by a law enforcement officer acting officially.
Obstructing governmental operations is a misdemeanor crime, but this offense does not include hindering, impairing, or obstructing the making of an arrest. Penalties can vary widely depending on your criminal history and other factors, from minor fines to time in prison. We’ll cover possible defenses for obstruction crimes in Arizona and what to do if you need help with a charge.
What to Keep in Mind About Obstruction of Governmental Operations
- Obstructing government operations is a class 1 misdemeanor crime in Arizona
- The charge will be more serious if you have prior offense on your record or committed the offense in addition to other crimes
- There’s a wide variety of obstruction crimes in Arizona that you should be aware of
- Seeking professional legal help is essential if you’ve been accused of such an offense
Obstruction Crimes in Arizona
Arizona law has a wide variety of laws that cover obstruction, since there are many ways a person can commit the offense along with other misdemeanor or felony crimes. Here are some examples:
“Refusing to Aid a Peace Officer”
You’re guilty of refusing to aid a peace officer if you knowingly refuse to help them prevent the commission of an offense or secure an arrest. To be guilty of this crime, you must make your refusal after a reasonable command from someone who it should be reasonably known is a peace officer. Refusing to aid a peace officer is a misdemeanor crime.
“Obstructing Criminal Investigations of Prosecutions”
If you use force, threats of force, intimidation, misrepresentation, or bribery to prevent, delay, or obstruct testimony related to a crime to a grand jury, prosecutor, magistrate, or peace officer, you’ve committed this crime. In addition, retaliating due to testimony or such information being given to a grand jury, prosecutor, magistrate, or peace officer may qualify as obstructing criminal investigations or prosecutions. This is a felony crime.
“Refusing to provide truthful name when lawfully detained”
It’s illegal to refuse to give your real, full name when a peace officer has lawfully detained you and you’ve been advised that refusing to answer the question is unlawful. This obstruction offense is a misdemeanor crime.
“Impersonating a public servant”
You’ve committed impersonating a public servant if you’ve pretended to be a public servant and engaged in activity intending to get another person to submit to your false authority or to rely on your falsely official actions. A notary public is considered a public servant according to the terms of this law. Impersonating a public servant is a misdemeanor offense.
“Obstructing a highway or other public thoroughfare”
You’re committing this crime if you create an unreasonable hazard or inconvenience or recklessly interfere with a public thoroughfare or highway’s passage without the legal privilege of doing so. This is a misdemeanor offense.
You’ve committed compounding if you’ve knowingly agreed to accept or accepted financial benefit for not reporting to law enforcement the suspected or certain commission of an offense or information regarding one, or for not pursuing prosecution of an offense. Compounding will be charged as a felony if the crime in question was a felony charge, and a misdemeanor if it wasn’t a felony offense.
Other obstruction crimes include (but aren’t limited to) refusing to assist in the control of a fire, obstructing an officer from collecting public money, and tampering with a public record.
Penalties for Obstruction-Related Crimes
Obstructing governmental operations is a misdemeanor crime, but other obstruction crimes are considered more serious. Obstructing criminal prosecutions, for example, is a felony, as is impersonating a police officer. As mentioned, if you committed a criminal offense and have prior offenses, penalties will be more severe.
Possible Defenses for Obstructing Crimes
The assertion of innocence is one of the simplest defenses that exist for criminal charges. Another common defense is constitutional violations or a violation of your Miranda rights during your arrest. In other cases, your attorney may be able to prove that you weren’t at the scene of the crime when it took place by means of an alibi.
Frequently Asked Questions on Obstruction Crimes
Here are some questions related to the legal terms about obstructing government operations (and other crimes of obstruction) in Arizona:
Q: What does it mean to “knowingly” obstruct government operations?
A: It means that, in committing the offense, you acted consciously or with complete understanding or knowledge of the circumstance.
Q: What is a misdemeanor offense?
A: Misdemeanor crimes are criminal acts that are considered “lesser,” and therefore punished less severely than felony crimes. Many misdemeanor offenses are punished by fees and no jail time.
Q: How is “physical force” defined according to the law?
A: Physical force means pressure, violence, or power directed at another person with physical action. You can’t make physical contact of a provoking or insulting nature without the act involving an element of physical force (which isn’t necessarily the same as “deadly physical force”).
Q: What is the legal definition of a “peace officer”?
A: A peace officer is any individual vested by law with an obligation to maintain public order. It’s usually an employee of the municipality, county, or state. It may be a law enforcement official or sheriff whose responsibilities include executing civil and criminal warrants, detecting and preventing criminal offenses, making arrests, and searches or seizures.
What to Do if You Need Help with an Obstruction Charge
If you’ve been accused of obstructing government operations or a related crime, it’s imperative that you speak with a criminal defense attorney today. To construct a proper defense, you need an experienced legal professional on your side. The sooner you talk to one, the better your chances will be at reducing your charges or even having them dismissed altogether.
Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.
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