Statutory Law - US Code - Title 18: Chapter 73: Obstruction of Justice


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U.S. Code Title 18: Crimes and Criminal Procedure


Chapter 73: Obstruction of Justice

*Current through Public Law 112-173, August 16th, 2012.
**Selected Provisions Relevant to U.S. Intelligence Law

CHAPTER 73—OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE

18 USC § 1503. Influencing or injuring officer or juror generally

(a) Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede any grand or petit juror, or officer in or of any court of the United States, or officer who may be serving at any examination or other proceeding before any United States magistrate judge or other committing magistrate, in the discharge of his duty, or injures any such grand or petit juror in his person or property on account of any verdict or indictment assented to by him, or on account of his being or having been such juror, or injures any such officer, magistrate judge, or other committing magistrate in his person or property on account of the performance of his official duties, or corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b). If the offense under this section occurs in connection with a trial of a criminal case, and the act in violation of this section involves the threat of physical force or physical force, the maximum term of imprisonment which may be imposed for the offense shall be the higher of that otherwise provided by law or the maximum term that could have been imposed for any offense charged in such case.
(b) The punishment for an offense under this section is—
(1) in the case of a killing, the punishment provided in sections 1111 and 1112;
(2) in the case of an attempted killing, or a case in which the offense was committed against a petit juror and in which a class A or B felony was charged, imprisonment for not more than 20 years, a fine under this title, or both; and
(3) in any other case, imprisonment for not more than 10 years, a fine under this title, or both.
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 769; Pub. L. 97–291, §4(c), Oct. 12, 1982, 96 Stat. 1253; Pub. L. 103–322, title VI, §60016, title XXXIII, §330016(1)(K), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 1974, 2147; Pub. L. 104–214, §1(3), Oct. 1, 1996, 110 Stat. 3017.)

18 USC § 1509. Obstruction of court orders

Whoever, by threats or force, willfully prevents, obstructs, impedes, or interferes with, or willfully attempts to prevent, obstruct, impede, or interfere with, the due exercise of rights or the performance of duties under any order, judgment, or decree of a court of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
No injunctive or other civil relief against the conduct made criminal by this section shall be denied on the ground that such conduct is a crime.
(Added Pub. L. 86–449, title I, §101, May 6, 1960, 74 Stat. 86; amended Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §330016(1)(H), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

18 USC § 1510. Obstruction of criminal investigations

(a) Whoever willfully endeavors by means of bribery to obstruct, delay, or prevent the communication of information relating to a violation of any criminal statute of the United States by any person to a criminal investigator shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
(b)(1) Whoever, being an officer of a financial institution, with the intent to obstruct a judicial proceeding, directly or indirectly notifies any other person about the existence or contents of a subpoena for records of that financial institution, or information that has been furnished in response to that subpoena, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
(2) Whoever, being an officer of a financial institution, directly or indirectly notifies—
(A) a customer of that financial institution whose records are sought by a subpoena for records; or
(B) any other person named in that subpoena;

about the existence or contents of that subpoena or information that has been furnished in response to that subpoena, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
(3) As used in this subsection—
(A) the term “an officer of a financial institution” means an officer, director, partner, employee, agent, or attorney of or for a financial institution; and
(B) the term “subpoena for records” means a Federal grand jury subpoena or a Department of Justice subpoena (issued under section 3486 of title 18), for customer records that has been served relating to a violation of, or a conspiracy to violate—
(i) section 215, 656, 657, 1005, 1006, 1007, 1014, 1344, 1956, 1957, or chapter 53 of title 31; or
(ii) section 1341 or 1343 affecting a financial institution.

(c) As used in this section, the term “criminal investigator” means any individual duly authorized by a department, agency, or armed force of the United States to conduct or engage in investigations of or prosecutions for violations of the criminal laws of the United States.
(d)(1) Whoever—
(A) acting as, or being, an officer, director, agent or employee of a person engaged in the business of insurance whose activities affect interstate commerce, or
(B) is engaged in the business of insurance whose activities affect interstate commerce or is involved (other than as an insured or beneficiary under a policy of insurance) in a transaction relating to the conduct of affairs of such a business,

with intent to obstruct a judicial proceeding, directly or indirectly notifies any other person about the existence or contents of a subpoena for records of that person engaged in such business or information that has been furnished to a Federal grand jury in response to that subpoena, shall be fined as provided by this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
(2) As used in paragraph (1), the term “subpoena for records” means a Federal grand jury subpoena for records that has been served relating to a violation of, or a conspiracy to violate, section 1033 of this title.
(e) Whoever, having been notified of the applicable disclosure prohibitions or confidentiality requirements of section 2709(c)(1) of this title, section 626(d)(1) or 627(c)(1) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681u(d)(1) or 1681v(c)(1)), section 1114(a)(3)(A) or 1114(a)(5)(D)(i) of the Right to Financial Privacy Act (12 U.S.C. 3414(a)(3)(A) or 3414(a)(5)(D)(i)), or section 802(b)(1) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 436(b)(1)), knowingly and with the intent to obstruct an investigation or judicial proceeding violates such prohibitions or requirements applicable by law to such person shall be imprisoned for not more than five years, fined under this title, or both.
(Added Pub. L. 90–123, §1(a), Nov. 3, 1967, 81 Stat. 362; amended Pub. L. 97–291, §4(e), Oct. 12, 1982, 96 Stat. 1253; Pub. L. 101–73, title IX, §962(c), Aug. 9, 1989, 103 Stat. 502; Pub. L. 102–550, title XV, §1528, Oct. 28, 1992, 106 Stat. 4065; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXII, §320604(c), title XXXIII, §330016(1)(K), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2119, 2147; Pub. L. 104–191, title II, §248(c), Aug. 21, 1996, 110 Stat. 2020; Pub. L. 109–177, title I, §117, Mar. 9, 2006, 120 Stat. 217; Pub. L. 111–148, title X, §10606(d)(1), Mar. 23, 2010, 124 Stat. 1008.)

18 USC § 1511. Obstruction of State or local law enforcement

(a) It shall be unlawful for two or more persons to conspire to obstruct the enforcement of the criminal laws of a State or political subdivision thereof, with the intent to facilitate an illegal gambling business if—
(1) one or more of such persons does any act to effect the object of such a conspiracy;
(2) one or more of such persons is an official or employee, elected, appointed, or otherwise, of such State or political subdivision; and
(3) one or more of such persons conducts, finances, manages, supervises, directs, or owns all or part of an illegal gambling business.

(b) As used in this section—
(1) “illegal gambling business” means a gambling business which—
(i) is a violation of the law of a State or political subdivision in which it is conducted;
(ii) involves five or more persons who conduct, finance, manage, supervise, direct, or own all or part of such business; and
(iii) has been or remains in substantially continuous operation for a period in excess of thirty days or has a gross revenue of $2,000 in any single day.

(2) “gambling” includes but is not limited to pool-selling, bookmaking, maintaining slot machines, roulette wheels, or dice tables, and conducting lotteries, policy, bolita or numbers games, or selling chances therein.
(3) “State” means any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any territory or possession of the United States.

(c) This section shall not apply to any bingo game, lottery, or similar game of chance conducted by an organization exempt from tax under paragraph (3) of subsection (c) of section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, if no part of the gross receipts derived from such activity inures to the benefit of any private shareholder, member, or employee of such organization, except as compensation for actual expenses incurred by him in the conduct of such activity.
(d) Whoever violates this section shall be punished by a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.
(Added Pub. L. 91–452, title VIII, §802(a), Oct. 15, 1970, 84 Stat. 936; amended Pub. L. 99–514, §2, Oct. 22, 1986, 100 Stat. 2095; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §330016(2)(C), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)

18 USC § 1512. Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant

(a)(1) Whoever kills or attempts to kill another person, with intent to—
(A) prevent the attendance or testimony of any person in an official proceeding;
(B) prevent the production of a record, document, or other object, in an official proceeding; or
(C) prevent the communication by any person to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense or a violation of conditions of probation, parole, or release pending judicial proceedings;

shall be punished as provided in paragraph (3).
(2) Whoever uses physical force or the threat of physical force against any person, or attempts to do so, with intent to—
(A) influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding;
(B) cause or induce any person to—
(i) withhold testimony, or withhold a record, document, or other object, from an official proceeding;
(ii) alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with intent to impair the integrity or availability of the object for use in an official proceeding;
(iii) evade legal process summoning that person to appear as a witness, or to produce a record, document, or other object, in an official proceeding; or
(iv) be absent from an official proceeding to which that person has been summoned by legal process; or

(C) hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense or a violation of conditions of probation, supervised release, parole, or release pending judicial proceedings;

shall be punished as provided in paragraph (3).
(3) The punishment for an offense under this subsection is—
(A) in the case of a killing, the punishment provided in sections 1111 and 1112;
(B) in the case of—
(i) an attempt to murder; or
(ii) the use or attempted use of physical force against any person;

imprisonment for not more than 30 years; and
(C) in the case of the threat of use of physical force against any person, imprisonment for not more than 20 years.

(b) Whoever knowingly uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person, with intent to—
(1) influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding;
(2) cause or induce any person to—
(A) withhold testimony, or withhold a record, document, or other object, from an official proceeding;
(B) alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with intent to impair the object's integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding;
(C) evade legal process summoning that person to appear as a witness, or to produce a record, document, or other object, in an official proceeding; or
(D) be absent from an official proceeding to which such person has been summoned by legal process; or

(3) hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense or a violation of conditions of probation  supervised release,, parole, or release pending judicial proceedings;

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
(c) Whoever corruptly—
(1) alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object's integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or
(2) otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so,

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
(d) Whoever intentionally harasses another person and thereby hinders, delays, prevents, or dissuades any person from—
(1) attending or testifying in an official proceeding;
(2) reporting to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense or a violation of conditions of probation  supervised release, parole, or release pending judicial proceedings;
(3) arresting or seeking the arrest of another person in connection with a Federal offense; or
(4) causing a criminal prosecution, or a parole or probation revocation proceeding, to be sought or instituted, or assisting in such prosecution or proceeding;

or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both.
(e) In a prosecution for an offense under this section, it is an affirmative defense, as to which the defendant has the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence, that the conduct consisted solely of lawful conduct and that the defendant's sole intention was to encourage, induce, or cause the other person to testify truthfully.
(f) For the purposes of this section—
(1) an official proceeding need not be pending or about to be instituted at the time of the offense; and
(2) the testimony, or the record, document, or other object need not be admissible in evidence or free of a claim of privilege.

(g) In a prosecution for an offense under this section, no state of mind need be proved with respect to the circumstance—
(1) that the official proceeding before a judge, court, magistrate judge, grand jury, or government agency is before a judge or court of the United States, a United States magistrate judge, a bankruptcy judge, a Federal grand jury, or a Federal Government agency; or
(2) that the judge is a judge of the United States or that the law enforcement officer is an officer or employee of the Federal Government or a person authorized to act for or on behalf of the Federal Government or serving the Federal Government as an adviser or consultant.

(h) There is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over an offense under this section.
(i) A prosecution under this section or section 1503 may be brought in the district in which the official proceeding (whether or not pending or about to be instituted) was intended to be affected or in the district in which the conduct constituting the alleged offense occurred.
(j) If the offense under this section occurs in connection with a trial of a criminal case, the maximum term of imprisonment which may be imposed for the offense shall be the higher of that otherwise provided by law or the maximum term that could have been imposed for any offense charged in such case.
(k) Whoever conspires to commit any offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties as those prescribed for the offense the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.
(Added Pub. L. 97–291, §4(a), Oct. 12, 1982, 96 Stat. 1249; amended Pub. L. 99–646, §61, Nov. 10, 1986, 100 Stat. 3614; Pub. L. 100–690, title VII, §7029(a), (c), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4397, 4398; Pub. L. 101–650, title III, §321, Dec. 1, 1990, 104 Stat. 5117; Pub. L. 103–322, title VI, §60018, title XXXIII, §330016(1)(O), (U), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 1975, 2148; Pub. L. 104–214, §1(2), Oct. 1, 1996, 110 Stat. 3017; Pub. L. 104–294, title VI, §604(b)(31), Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3508; Pub. L. 107–204, title XI, §1102, July 30, 2002, 116 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 107–273, div. B, title III, §3001(a), (c)(1), Nov. 2, 2002, 116 Stat. 1803, 1804; Pub. L. 110–177, title II, §205, Jan. 7, 2008, 121 Stat. 2537.)

18 USC § 1513. Retaliating against a witness, victim, or an informant

(a)(1) Whoever kills or attempts to kill another person with intent to retaliate against any person for—
(A) the attendance of a witness or party at an official proceeding, or any testimony given or any record, document, or other object produced by a witness in an official proceeding; or
(B) providing to a law enforcement officer any information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense or a violation of conditions of probation, supervised release, parole, or release pending judicial proceedings,

shall be punished as provided in paragraph (2).
(2) The punishment for an offense under this subsection is—
(A) in the case of a killing, the punishment provided in sections 1111 and 1112; and
(B) in the case of an attempt, imprisonment for not more than 30 years.

(b) Whoever knowingly engages in any conduct and thereby causes bodily injury to another person or damages the tangible property of another person, or threatens to do so, with intent to retaliate against any person for—
(1) the attendance of a witness or party at an official proceeding, or any testimony given or any record, document, or other object produced by a witness in an official proceeding; or
(2) any information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense or a violation of conditions of probation, supervised release, parole, or release pending judicial proceedings given by a person to a law enforcement officer;

or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
(c) If the retaliation occurred because of attendance at or testimony in a criminal case, the maximum term of imprisonment which may be imposed for the offense under this section shall be the higher of that otherwise provided by law or the maximum term that could have been imposed for any offense charged in such case.
(d) There is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over an offense under this section.
(e) Whoever knowingly, with the intent to retaliate, takes any action harmful to any person, including interference with the lawful employment or livelihood of any person, for providing to a law enforcement officer any truthful information relating to the commission or possible commission of any Federal offense, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.
(f) Whoever conspires to commit any offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties as those prescribed for the offense the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.
(g) A prosecution under this section may be brought in the district in which the official proceeding (whether pending, about to be instituted, or completed) was intended to be affected, or in which the conduct constituting the alleged offense occurred.
(Added Pub. L. 97–291, §4(a), Oct. 12, 1982, 96 Stat. 1250; amended Pub. L. 103–322, title VI, §60017, title XXXIII, §330016(1)(U), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 1975, 2148; Pub. L. 104–214, §1(1), Oct. 1, 1996, 110 Stat. 3017; Pub. L. 107–204, title XI, §1107(a), July 30, 2002, 116 Stat. 810; Pub. L. 107–273, div. B, title III, §3001(b), (c)(2), title IV, §4002(b)(4), Nov. 2, 2002, 116 Stat. 1804, 1807; Pub. L. 110–177, title II, §§204, 206, Jan. 7, 2008, 121 Stat. 2537.)

18 USC § 1514. Civil action to restrain harassment of a victim or witness

(a)(1) A United States district court, upon application of the attorney for the Government, shall issue a temporary restraining order prohibiting harassment of a victim or witness in a Federal criminal case if the court finds, from specific facts shown by affidavit or by verified complaint, that there are reasonable grounds to believe that harassment of an identified victim or witness in a Federal criminal case exists or that such order is necessary to prevent and restrain an offense under section 1512 of this title, other than an offense consisting of misleading conduct, or under section 1513 of this title.
(2)(A) A temporary restraining order may be issued under this section without written or oral notice to the adverse party or such party's attorney in a civil action under this section if the court finds, upon written certification of facts by the attorney for the Government, that such notice should not be required and that there is a reasonable probability that the Government will prevail on the merits.
(B) A temporary restraining order issued without notice under this section shall be endorsed with the date and hour of issuance and be filed forthwith in the office of the clerk of the court issuing the order.
(C) A temporary restraining order issued under this section shall expire at such time, not to exceed 14 days from issuance, as the court directs; the court, for good cause shown before expiration of such order, may extend the expiration date of the order for up to 14 days or for such longer period agreed to by the adverse party.
(D) When a temporary restraining order is issued without notice, the motion for a protective order shall be set down for hearing at the earliest possible time and takes precedence over all matters except older matters of the same character, and when such motion comes on for hearing, if the attorney for the Government does not proceed with the application for a protective order, the court shall dissolve the temporary restraining order.
(E) If on two days notice to the attorney for the Government, excluding intermediate weekends and holidays, or on such shorter notice as the court may prescribe, the adverse party appears and moves to dissolve or modify the temporary restraining order, the court shall proceed to hear and determine such motion as expeditiously as the ends of justice require.
(F) A temporary restraining order shall set forth the reasons for the issuance of such order, be specific in terms, and describe in reasonable detail (and not by reference to the complaint or other document) the act or acts being restrained.
(b)(1) A United States district court, upon motion of the attorney for the Government, shall issue a protective order prohibiting harassment of a victim or witness in a Federal criminal case if the court, after a hearing, finds by a preponderance of the evidence that harassment of an identified victim or witness in a Federal criminal case exists or that such order is necessary to prevent and restrain an offense under section 1512 of this title, other than an offense consisting of misleading conduct, or under section 1513 of this title.
(2) At the hearing referred to in paragraph (1) of this subsection, any adverse party named in the complaint shall have the right to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses.
(3) A protective order shall set forth the reasons for the issuance of such order, be specific in terms, describe in reasonable detail (and not by reference to the complaint or other document) the act or acts being restrained.
(4) The court shall set the duration of effect of the protective order for such period as the court determines necessary to prevent harassment of the victim or witness but in no case for a period in excess of three years from the date of such order's issuance. The attorney for the Government may, at any time within ninety days before the expiration of such order, apply for a new protective order under this section.
(c) As used in this section—
(1) the term “harassment” means a course of conduct directed at a specific person that—
(A) causes substantial emotional distress in such person; and
(B) serves no legitimate purpose; and

(2) the term “course of conduct” means a series of acts over a period of time, however short, indicating a continuity of purpose.
(Added Pub. L. 97–291, §4(a), Oct. 12, 1982, 96 Stat. 1250; amended Pub. L. 111–16, §3(2), (3), May 7, 2009, 123 Stat. 1607.)

18 USC § 1515. Definitions for certain provisions; general provision

(a) As used in sections 1512 and 1513 of this title and in this section—
(1) the term “official proceeding” means—
(A) a proceeding before a judge or court of the United States, a United States magistrate judge, a bankruptcy judge, a judge of the United States Tax Court, a special trial judge of the Tax Court, a judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims, or a Federal grand jury;
(B) a proceeding before the Congress;
(C) a proceeding before a Federal Government agency which is authorized by law; or
(D) a proceeding involving the business of insurance whose activities affect interstate commerce before any insurance regulatory official or agency or any agent or examiner appointed by such official or agency to examine the affairs of any person engaged in the business of insurance whose activities affect interstate commerce;

(2) the term “physical force” means physical action against another, and includes confinement;
(3) the term “misleading conduct” means—
(A) knowingly making a false statement;
(B) intentionally omitting information from a statement and thereby causing a portion of such statement to be misleading, or intentionally concealing a material fact, and thereby creating a false impression by such statement;
(C) with intent to mislead, knowingly submitting or inviting reliance on a writing or recording that is false, forged, altered, or otherwise lacking in authenticity;
(D) with intent to mislead, knowingly submitting or inviting reliance on a sample, specimen, map, photograph, boundary mark, or other object that is misleading in a material respect; or
(E) knowingly using a trick, scheme, or device with intent to mislead;

(4) the term “law enforcement officer” means an officer or employee of the Federal Government, or a person authorized to act for or on behalf of the Federal Government or serving the Federal Government as an adviser or consultant—
(A) authorized under law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of an offense; or
(B) serving as a probation or pretrial services officer under this title;

(5) the term “bodily injury” means—
(A) a cut, abrasion, bruise, burn, or disfigurement;
(B) physical pain;
(C) illness;
(D) impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty; or
(E) any other injury to the body, no matter how temporary; and

(6) the term “corruptly persuades” does not include conduct which would be misleading conduct but for a lack of a state of mind.

(b) As used in section 1505, the term “corruptly” means acting with an improper purpose, personally or by influencing another, including making a false or misleading statement, or withholding, concealing, altering, or destroying a document or other information.
(c) This chapter does not prohibit or punish the providing of lawful, bona fide, legal representation services in connection with or anticipation of an official proceeding.
(Added Pub. L. 97–291, §4(a), Oct. 12, 1982, 96 Stat. 1252; amended Pub. L. 99–646, §50(b), Nov. 10, 1986, 100 Stat. 3605; Pub. L. 100–690, title VII, §7029(b), (d), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4398; Pub. L. 101–650, title III, §321, Dec. 1, 1990, 104 Stat. 5117; Pub. L. 102–572, title IX, §902(b)(1), Oct. 29, 1992, 106 Stat. 4516; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXII, §320604(a), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2118; Pub. L. 104–292, §3, Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3460; Pub. L. 104–294, title VI, §604(b)(39), Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3509.)

18 USC § 1519. Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy

Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
(Added Pub. L. 107–204, title VIII, §802(a), July 30, 2002, 116 Stat. 800.)