OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE
Joseph Jordan is a military defense attorney who aggressively represents servicemembers in courts martial. He is a former Army Judge Advocate. He has successfully defended servicemembers in numerous courts martial against obstruction of justice charges.
Obstructing Justice is a violation of Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). To convict you of obstructing justice, the prosecutor must prove that you (1) you knew or believed that there would be a criminal proceeding; (2) and you committed certain acts; (3) with the intent to influence or impede the administration of justice; and (4) that that your conduct was service discrediting or prejudicial to good order and discipline in the armed forces.
Obstruction of justice includes lying to investigators, intimidating witnesses and destroying evidence. Encouraging a victim to take back an accusation can also be obstruction of justice.
Criminal proceedings include searches, police or command investigations, article 15 or non-judicial punishment proceedings, Article 32 investigations, state or federal criminal trials and courts martial. Administrative processes and proceedings, such as reduction and discharge boards do not qualify.
There must be the intent to influence or impede the administration of justice, however, an actual impediment or influence is not necessary. Additionally, a proceeding or investigation does not need to have started for obstruction of justice to occur.
The prosecutor must also prove that the conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, which means that the adultery had an obvious and measurable effect on morale, discipline, or unit cohesion or had a detrimental impact on the authority or esteem of a service member. Alternately, the prosecutor must prove that the adultery was service discrediting, meaning that because of the open and notorious nature of the allegation, it lowered the service in the public esteem, brought the service into disrepute or made it subject to public ridicule.
Obstructing Justice is a very serious charge. Convictions can result in a dishonorable discharge, reduction to E-1 and up to 5 years in prison.