Updated on August 23, 2022
Texas, like every other state, takes its legal system and law enforcement seriously. The judicial system is set up to provide victims of crimes with justice as quickly as possible, and this is a lofty goal even when there is no one out there throwing up roadblocks.
One such impediment that the law actively attempts to thwart is people who purposely intervene with and slow down the legal process. The State of Texas does not take kindly to people who take it upon themselves to interrupt the legal system's smooth flow, which is why there are charges related to retaliation and obstruction on the books.
If you are facing a charge of obstruction or retaliation in the State of Texas, the consequences of a conviction are too great to not bring your strongest defense; an experienced Temple criminal defense attorney can help you with that.
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard is just such an attorney, so please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222 to learn more about how we can help you today.
Comparing Obstruction and Retaliation
Before tackling how obstruction and retaliation differ from one another, it is important to consider how they are similar. There are three qualifiers that must be present in order for either the charge of retaliation or obstruction to stick:
The accused intentionally or knowingly harmed or threatened to harm someone else unlawfully.
The harm was intended to prevent an action or to retaliate after a specific action.
The action in question was either the reporting of a crime, the work of a public servant, or the testimony of a potential witness.
In essence, a charge of retaliation or obstruction is intended to penalize an individual for interrupting the legal system or for interrupting a public servant’s efforts. When you delve into each of these charges, however, there is more to it than this.
The charge of obstruction relates specifically to the act of delaying or preventing the actions of any of the following people:
A public servant
A reporter of a crime
The manner in which the accused obstructs the action in question can vary widely, but it must incorporate harm or the threat of harm to the person whose action is obstructed. While the harm need not be physical harm, it must be harm that is unlawful. The harm can come in any of the following forms:
If any such action is employed in an attempt to keep a public servant from doing his or her job (for example, keeping a witness from testifying, an informant from providing information, or a reporter of a crime from reporting the crime) it can rise to the level of an obstruction charge.
If you have been charged with obstruction, contact an experienced Temple criminal defense attorney for help with your case.
The Motivation for Obstruction
Every obstruction charge is unique to the circumstances involved, but people are typically motivated to engage in the crime of obstruction as a means of protecting themselves or a loved one from being convicted of a crime. For example, threatening a witness in an attempt to prevent him or her from testifying at your own or someone else’s trial is a form of obstruction.
While obstruction is causing or threatening harm before a public servant or witness does something, retaliation is the crime of causing or threatening harm after the fact. In other words, retaliation applies if the accused allegedly harmed or threatened to harm someone that has already provided testimony, reported a crime, acted as a public servant, or provided information.
The Latest Legal Tweak: Doxxing
Obstruction and retaliation do not have to be personal acts. In fact, the State of Texas recently tweaked its laws to include the act of doxxing.
Doxxing refers to the act of publicly posting someone else's personal information, such as the person's private address or personal phone number, as a means of harming that person for their role as a public servant. Such acts are illegal, and the State of Texas takes these maneuvers seriously.
Doxxing can be a complicated element of an obstruction or retaliation charge. To ensure the best outcome for your case, consult with a Temple, Texas, criminal defense attorney.
Obstruction and Retaliation: The Penalties
Because the crimes of obstruction and retaliation can seriously disrupt the course of justice—and can seriously impede a criminal investigation or trial—they are associated with harsh penalties. At the very least, the charges of obstruction and retaliation are third-degree felonies, which can lead to fines of up to $10,000 and from 2 to 10 years in prison.
If the obstruction or retaliation charge is considered aggravated, the charge can be elevated to a second-degree felony, and the penalties for conviction are more serious still. The maximum prison sentence doubles from 10 to 20 years.
Here are the factors that are classified as aggravating:
Causing a public servant—or any member of his or her family—to suffer bodily harm
Threatening or harming a juror
Whether your charges involve a second- or third-degree felony, a conviction means bearing the status of a convicted felon for a lifetime.
The State’s Motivation
The justice system depends upon public servants, witnesses to crimes, and people who report crimes to help effect justice, which is why courts take the crimes of obstruction and retaliation very seriously.
The idea is to protect these individuals from harm and from the threat of harm to help ensure that justice continues to prevail. A momentary lapse in judgment, however, that amounts to a threat made in haste or anger can lead to a life-altering criminal charge.
Consult with an Experienced Temple Criminal Defense Attorney Today
All criminal charges are serious charges, including those involving obstruction and retaliation. If you are facing a charge of obstruction, retaliation, or doxxing, attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Temple, Texas, is here to help.
Mr. Pritchard has impressive experience helping clients like you successfully navigate the legal process to pursue favorable case resolutions. Your case is important, so please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222 for more information today.