What Constitutes a Crime Against the Government?
Posted By: Jacob Martinez
Category: Criminal Defense
When you hear “crimes against the government,” it may call to mind high-level federal crimes like espionage and terrorism. Because the American government is large and powerful, it may seem very difficult for one individual to commit a crime that directly affects the government in any meaningful way.
The truth is that crimes against the government do include terrorism and espionage, but also cover much lesser crimes that occur on a state level, like resisting arrest or perjury. All charges contain the same underlying assertion: that the accused, in one way or another, showed a lack of respect or offered resistance towards the authority of the government. Often these crimes involve obstructing the legal system in some way. For example, preventing a policeman from performing his duty or lying under oath are both crimes against the government.
In order for the legal system and other government bodies to serve the people effectively, government officials and institutions are required to maintain a respected status among citizens. Because of this, committing a crime against a government official or institution is punished more severely than committing the same crime towards a private party. For example, threatening a witness in a case is usually a more serious crime than simply threatening a random person on the street.
Not surprisingly, the prosecution usually takes these crimes very seriously, often seeking harsh punishments that have life-altering consequences. Being prosecuted for a crime against the government can be frightening and complicated, especially since the prosecutors themselves are agents of the government. When accused of a crime against the government, it’s important to contact an experienced criminal attorney in order to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
An In-depth Look at 4 Examples of Crimes against the Government
The following four crimes are so common that you probably didn’t even realize that they were considered crimes against the government. Nevertheless, if you are facing any of the following charges, you need to understand what they mean and what you are up against.
Resisting Arrest. This is something that can easily be added to a preexisting charge during an arrest. An individual resists arrest when they attempt to prevent a peace officer from arresting them or another individual. Typically, this occurs when the person in custody makes verbal threats or physical contact with a police officer or government official.
Resisting arrest is a Class 2 misdemeanor in Colorado, but if the officer is injured during the arrest, you can be charged with assault in the second degree, which can be charged as a Class 3 or Class 4 felony with an attached mandatory prison sentence.
If you are placed under arrest, it’s best to remain silent and submit to the officer – even if you think the charge is unfounded. Many statements or actions that seem innocent enough to you could be construed as resisting arrest to the officer in question.
Obstruction. A similar charge to resisting arrest, obstruction is usually applied to someone who is not the direct subject of the arrest. Obstruction occurs when an individual obstructs, impairs, or hinders certain government officials from doing their job. In addition to the police, “officials” in this case include firefighters, medical and rescue specialists, and volunteer citizens rendering treatment or care at the scene of an emergency. Often this charge is utilized by police when citizens become verbally critical or refuse to leave the scene of an arrest. Obstruction is a Class 2 misdemeanor in Colorado.
Perjury. When an individual willfully lies under oath, they are committing perjury. First Degree perjury is the most recognizable form. This normally occurs in a courtroom setting and is a Class 4 felony. Second degree perjury occurs when an individual lies, either under oath or to a public servant not in an official proceeding , with the intent to mislead the public servant in the performance of his duty.
If you have ever signed an official government document stating something to the effect of “Under the penalty of perjury, I swear…,” you are familiar with a context in which Second Degree perjury might occur – signing this sort of statement constitutes a legal oath. Second Degree perjury is classified as a first degree misdemeanor in Colorado.
Violation of Parenting/Custody Order. Violating a court custody order is a serious offence. This occurs when the parent of a child violates the conditions outlined in a child custody order. An example might be a non-custodial parent refusing to return a child to the custodial parent at a proper time. In most situations, courts will attempt to keep custody issues as civil matters. However, after repeated or serious violations, the parent in question may be considered in contempt of their court order. Violation of Custody Orders are considered Class 4 or 5 felonies.
Don’t stand idly by if you have been leveled with a charge that constitutes a crime against the government. Fight back as soon as possible by seeking out a knowledgeable Colorado criminal lawyer with a successful track record and planning your defense strategy.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.