Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Obstruction of Justice Definition:

An act which tends to impede or thwart the administration of justice.

Related Terms: Obstructing Justice

Also known as obstructing justice (see, also, Lloyd Duhaime, Obstruction of Justice).

Canada's Criminal Code, circa 2012 defines obstruction of justice as follows:

"... wilfully attempts in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice in a judicial proceeding (existing or proposed)...."

In R v Meissner:

"... the doing of some act which has a tendency and is intended to pervert the administration of public justice."

In People v Sexton, Justice Saad of the Court of Appeals of Michigan adopted these words:

"The crime of obstruction of justice occurs when the effort is made to thwart or impede the administration of justice.

"For example, in obstructing justice through coercion, the crime is complete with the attempt and whether the attempt succeeds in dissuading the witness is immaterial. Thus, if a defendant harasses or physically prevents a witness from appearing or testifying, or attempts to do so, such actions constitute obstruction of justice, regardless of whether the witness ultimately appears or testifies."

From the jurisprudence, the following conduct have been held to constitute obstruction of justice:

  • "Attempting to escape from custody prior to trial constitutes obstruction of justice."1
  • "Testifying falsely regarding a material fact."2
  • "Obstruction of justice refers to efforts to impede the processes of legal justice including the sentencing process."3
  • Misleading police officers in their investigation of a crime.4
  • "Obstruction of justice for providing materially false information to a probation officer in respect to the presentence investigation.... That false information must, however, be material. Material information means information that, if believed, would tend to influence or affect the issue under determination."5
  • "Flight from authorities, especially his high-speed chase when threatened with apprehension."6
  • "Numerous offenses ... may constitute obstruction of justice, including causing a witness bodily injury in retaliation for providing testimony, information or evidence in a federal proceeding.... The conduct ... may range from a mere threat to an act of extreme violence."7
  • "Willfully disguising a handwriting exemplar that is to be provided to the FBI for comparison to writings that will be introduced at trial."8
  • "Conceal or destroy evidence."9


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