Former British energy secretary, Chris Huhne, and his ex-wife, celebrated economist Vicky Pryce, were recently released from prison after serving just ¼ of their 8-month sentence. More than a decade ago, Pryce allegedly took speeding points for Huhne when they remained married; the pair was consequently convicted of perverting the course of justice, despite Pryce’s marital coercion defense. Terms of their early release will require Pryce and Huhne to wear electronic tags.
What is perverting the course of justice?
Perverting the course of justice is a law found in Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, and Hong Kong. An individual can be found guilty of perverting the course of justice if they commit any of the following:
Intimidating or threatening a judge
Disposing of or fabricating evidence
Intimidating or threatening a juror or witness
Can I be charged with perverting the course of justice in Arizona?
No, you cannot be charged with perverting the course of justice in AZ. However, there are several statutes that apply to the obstruction of public administration. Those that most closely relate to the above situations can be found below.
Obstructing Governmental Operations
A person commits obstructing governmental operations if, by threatening or using physical force or violence, they hinder, impair, or obstruct any of the following:
The enforcement of the penal law or the preservation of the peace by a police officer acting under his official authority.
The performance of a governmental function by a public servant acting under his official authority.
Obstructing governmental operations is typically charged as a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona.
Obstructing Criminal Investigations or Prosecutions
A person is guilty of obstructing criminal investigations or prosecutions if they knowingly, by means of misrepresentation, intimidation, bribery, force, or threats of force obstruct, prevent, or delay the communication of information or testimony relating to a violation of any criminal statute to a police officer, prosecutor, or grand jury.
Obstructing criminal investigations or prosecutions is typically charged as a class 5 felony in AZ.
While these crimes may not seem very serious, they are prosecuted strictly in Arizona and offenders can expect to receive harsh fines and penalties if convicted.