This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

Is Intentional Delay Considered Obstruction?

Question from Jon H M, Is Intentional Delay Considered Obstruction?

Answer from AI:

In the United States, the concept of obstruction generally refers to actions that intentionally impede or interfere with the administration of justice or other governmental operations. Whether an intentional delay can be considered obstruction depends on the context of the action, the intent behind it, and the effect it has on legal or governmental processes.

Understanding Obstruction

Obstruction of justice is a broad term that encompasses various actions aimed at hindering the discovery, apprehension, conviction, or punishment of criminals, or the execution of laws by government officials. The key elements typically include:

  • Knowledge: The person knows their actions are likely to affect the process.
  • Intent: The person has the intention to obstruct or impede.
  • Action: Taking some action that can be seen as obstructive.

Intentional Delay as Obstruction

An intentional delay can be considered obstruction if it meets the criteria above. For example, if someone intentionally delays handing over documents that are subpoenaed in a legal investigation with the purpose of hindering that investigation, this could be seen as obstruction of justice.

However, not all delays are obstructive. Delays can be part of normal processes or arise from legitimate needs for additional time to comply with requests. The distinction often lies in the intent behind the delay and its impact on the legal or governmental process.

Legal Framework

In the U.S., obstruction of justice is covered under several statutes, including but not limited to:

  • 18 U.S.C. § 1501-1521: These sections cover various forms of obstruction, including the obstruction of the due administration of justice, tampering with witnesses, and retaliating against witnesses.
  • 18 U.S.C. § 1519: This section makes it a crime to destroy, alter, or falsify records with the intent to obstruct or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States.

For more detailed information on these statutes, you can visit the Legal Information Institute’s website.

When to Seek Legal Advice

Determining whether an action constitutes obstruction can be complex and highly dependent on specific circumstances. If you are concerned that an action might be considered obstruction, or if you are accused of obstruction, it is crucial to seek legal advice. A legal professional can provide guidance based on the specifics of your situation and the relevant laws.


Intentional delays can be considered obstruction if they are done with the intent to impede or interfere with a legal or governmental process. However, the context and intent behind the delay are key factors in determining whether an action is obstructive. Given the complexity of obstruction laws, consulting with a legal professional for personalized advice is recommended for anyone facing or concerned about such issues.

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