Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Three Things to Know About Obstruction of Justice Charges in Massachusetts

A Massachusetts court recently sentenced a man who has been dubbed a “pimp” who participated in the sex trafficking of multiple individuals, including one minor who was a teenager. The man was sentenced to 138 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release. The duration of the prison sentence was suggested in memos filed by both the defense and prosecution.  

The sentencing comes after the man was arrested in February 2020 for several charges associated with sex trafficking. Several months later, the man was charged with additional offenses involving obstruction of justice as well as witness tampering after he was found allegedly directing “co-conspirators” to contact victims and try to either alter or withdraw testimony.

In November of 2021, the man pled guilty to a range of offenses including sex trafficking of a minor, transportation of a minor for prostitution, two counts of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, fraud and coercion, witness tampering, and the obstruction of justice.

Because obstruction of justice is a particularly serious offense, this article reviews some important details that you should appreciate about obstruction of justice charges in Massachusetts.

What Constitutes Obstruction of Justice?

Obstruction of ustice is a common-law offense in Massachusetts. Because the crime is a common-law offense, the elements of the crime are not established by a statute. As a result, to establish that a person has committed the offense, the prosecution in Massachusetts must establish beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements:

  • Law enforcement was investigating a suspected crime

  • The person charged with obstruction was aware of the investigation

  • The person charged with the offense in some way attempted to convince a witness not to cooperate with law enforcement performing the investigation, lied to law enforcement about the investigation, or altered, destroyed, or hid evidence related to the offense

  • The person charged with the offense interfered with the investigation in a way that was knowing or wilful

Obstructing Justice is a Federal Offense

Obstructing justice is a federal offense. Federal laws address various ways that a person can obstruct justice. This section of federal law applies to various actions including tampering with witnesses, obstructing hearings, or using threats to prevent evidence production.

Common Examples of Obstruction of Justice

A person obstructs justice when that individual interferes with those actors involved in a criminal investigation. If law enforcement brings a person in for questioning or questions that individual and that person lies about the offense, the individual could very likely be charged with obstruction of justice.

If a person burns or otherwise destroys evidence related to a crime, that individual could end up facing obstruction of justice charges. Destroying property could be viewed as an obstruction of justice.

A person will not be charged with obstructing justice if that person refuses to answer questions that law enforcement has about a criminal offense. Remember, every person can raise their Fifth Amendment right to silence and decline to answer questions law enforcement has about an offense. 

Obtain the Assistance of a Compassionate Criminal Defense Attorney

Being convicted of a sex crime or related offense in Massachusetts can carry serious penalties. One of the best ways to respond in such a situation is to promptly contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact Attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.