Obstructing Justice

Obstructing Justice

The offence of obstructing justice is outlined in sections 139(1) and 139(2) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of obstructing justice when they offer to pay an individual to be a surety.

A person also commits the offence of obstructing justice when they, as a surety, accept money in exchange for being a surety. In other words, it is obstruction of justice to be a bail bondsman or to be paid by the accused to act as surety.

Finally, a person could commit the offence of obstruction of justice by doing or attempting to do anything that obstructs the course of justice, such as interfering with the court process, police investigation or evidence.

Examples

Person A pays person B a fee of $5,000 for person B to act as surety.

Person C is having a search warrant executed on their home and they rip up some papers so the police officers executing the search warrant will not find them.

Person D is in custody and asked by a police detective to identify themselves but person D refuses to tell the detective their real name.

Cases

HMTQ. v. O’Connor, 2015 ONSC 1256

In HMTQ. v. O’Connor, the accused was charged with obstruction of justice after he acted as surety to one of his clients and then attempted to claim money as a fee for acting as surety.

R. v. Molland, 2020 ONCJ 322

In R. v. Molland, the accused was charged with one count of obstructing justice when they stepped in front of an officer screaming and swearing, distracting the officer from his investigation.

R. v. Wafer, 2021 ONCJ 618

In R. v. Wafer, the accused, a police officer, was charged with obstructing justice for speaking to prosecutors to get rid of traffic tickets that his friends and co-workers received.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Legitimate Reason

Where the person’s conduct is disruptive, but they do not have the intention of obstructing the course of justice, then that person has not completed the offence of obstructing justice.

For example, if person A is trying to get the attention of a police officer because they have just been robbed, and causes the officer to stop their ongoing investigation, person A will not be charged with obstructing justice.

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