Crimes Against Justice
If you’re arrested, can’t get charges dismissed and what you’re offered as a plea bargain isn’t acceptable, your case will be decided at a trial. You may think that an Indiana trial proceeding is a place where you can tell your story and put this behind you, but a courtroom is also a place where you can get yourself deeper into trouble if you don’t handle yourself properly.
There are crimes that can be committed during the investigation and criminal trial processes, in addition to the underlying charges you face.
They can include contempt of court, failure to appear and perjury. What you may think are shortcuts that can help you escape your criminal charges may actually just add to the criminal charges you face.
These crimes against the court, or crimes against justice, normally involve some sort of disorderly or disrespectful action that questions the authority or intelligence of the legal system. They can carry similar consequences and penalties as other crimes, including fines and jail time.
Indiana Perjury Charges
Statements given under oath and in certain legal documents are presumed to be truthful or at least made in good faith. There are no guarantees they’re truthful, but those who knowingly mislead a court through deliberately making false statements or documents can face criminal charges of perjury.
To perjure yourself, you must knowingly make false or misleading statements under oath or sign a legal document you know to be false or misleading. These acts must involve a court action or a grand jury. This should be taken seriously, because the foundation of the legal system depends on trust and credibility. Potentially, a sworn statement could be the difference between being found guilty or having charges dismissed.
Evidence of perjury normally is discovered when testimony or signed statements are found to conflict with verifiable information or other evidence. Memories fade, a witness may become confused and false testimony may be offered, but if made in good faith it’s not perjury. Prosecutors would need to show an intent to deceive or mislead to prove a perjury charge.
Any criminal conviction can harm your ability to get a job and your career prospects, but a perjury conviction can be especially harmful to those in a profession where truthfulness is valued, such as in the legal profession, accounting, law enforcement and government, where you could lose your job and your professional license.
Indiana Contempt of Court
Those held in contempt of court can be parties to a proceeding, attorneys, witnesses, jurors, people in or around a proceeding and officers or staff of the court itself. This crime falls into criminal and civil contempt.
Civil contempt normally involves someone’s failing to comply with a court order. Judges use civil contempt sanctions (including fines or time in jail) to coerce this person to follow the court order the person has violated.
Criminal contempt charges are meant to punish and discourage future acts of contempt, no matter the outcome of the underlying proceeding. If you’re found to be in criminal contempt, unlike civil contempt, you can’t be released by complying with the judge.
Criminal contempt of court can be either direct or indirect. Direct contempt occurs in court. For example, a person could yell at the judge and impede the proceeding and bring disrespect on the court. Indirect contempt occurs outside the court and can include refusing to turn over subpoenaed evidence or failing to pay court-ordered child support.
Indiana Obstruction of Justice
The crime of obstruction of justice covers actions that undermine the validity of the legal system. It could be bribery, tampering with evidence, lying to investigators, abusing one’s power or some other act intended to impede a criminal investigation. Obstruction of justice can include:
- Bribing or coercing a witness to delay or avoiding testifying
- Withholding a document after being ordered by a court to produce it
- Altering or damaging a document to prevent its use as evidence
- Trying to influence or juror
This crime can involve an official government proceeding, criminal proceeding or investigation.
Indiana Failure to Appear
A person who, after being released from lawful detention on the condition he or she will appear at a specified time and place in connection with a criminal charge, intentionally fails to appear at that time and place commits failure to appear, a Class A misdemeanor (up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000), unless the underlying criminal charge is a felony, in which case failure to appear is a Level 6 felony (between six months to two and a half years in prison and a fine up to $10,000).
If you or any member of your family has been arrested or charged with any crime, including those against justice or a court, get help today. Call our office or fill out the contact form on the right for a free consultation. Protect yourself and your family with the seasoned, experienced criminal trial lawyers of your New Albany Legal Team.