Offenses Related to Legal Processes
As with other classifications of criminal statutes, crimes against public justice are loosely categorized according to who suffers. These crimes might be grouped in with victimless crimes but stand apart in as much as these crimes, at least in theory, involve impairment of the legal system.
Unlike crimes against persons and crimes against property, Oklahoma’s statutes do recognize crimes against public justice, at least as an ambiguously defined category. Chapter 19 of Oklahoma’s criminal code (Title 21) classifies “Other Crimes Against Public Justice.”
The “other” category includes such wide ranging offenses as baby-swapping (Substituting Once Child for Another), barratry (bringing groundless lawsuits), fortifying access points to a place where a felony is being committed and selling land under pretended title.
In classifying those “Other Crimes Against Public Justice” in Chapter 19, Oklahoma statutes implicitly identify additional Title 21 offenses as crimes against public justice. Starting around Chapter 4, Title 21 offense preceding Chapter 19 may implicitly be considered crimes against public justice. Those offenses include perjury, nepotism, destruction of public records, destruction of evidence, escape, conspiracy, bribery, election crimes, offenses against state property or revenue, and offenses against legislative or executive powers.
Some archaic Oklahoma crimes against public justice remain on the books, particularly a flag desecration law that was invalidated by Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989).
Self-Defense for The Legal System
Because most crimes against public justice involve some form of adversarial or untoward interaction with the legal system, police, prosecutors and even judges might consider those accused public justice crimes to be less compliant or more adversarial than others. For this reason, defenses can sometimes involve persuading prosecutors the alleged incident was an isolated occurrence. Contrition and a demonstration of compliant behavior can sometimes mitigate genuinely bad behavior in the eyes of prosecutors.
These can also be crimes prosecutors or police over-zealously charge. A suspect who goes limp and must be dragged to a police car might be wrongly charged with resisting. An otherwise complaint person who repeatedly states objections to an arrest might be wrongly cited for interfering with an officer.
Other offenses against public justice can involve underlying crimes against persons or crimes against property. Accessory to a felony, conspiracy or participating in a pattern of criminal 0ffenses might involve robbery, theft or even murder yet, for classification purposes, the harm goes beyond the individual victims or the disregard for a particular law.
Likewise, a falsely reported crime can victimize a person wrongly accused of the crime, but we classify it as a crime against public justice. Society collectively benefits from a criminal justice system informed primarily by honest participants. Offenses against the function of the legal system can thwart its efficient operation.
Yet, protectiveness toward the legal system can be a reason police or prosecutors might forego leniency in alleged offenses against public justice, or even neglect to carefully review alleged facts in view of particular elements of an offense.
That is why a criminal defense attorney considers whether alleged acts would satisfy necessary elements of a charge. A defense attorney also considers whether a criminal conviction based on the alleged acts would be constitutional – such as the case of a Houston man whose Texas obstruction charges were overturned by the US Supreme Court because telling officers to “pick on someone my size” is constitutionally protected free speech.
Of course, a defense strategy often involves disputing whether the alleged acts actually occurred. Police might try leverage public justice charges, such as accessory to a felony or conspiracy, in attempts to pry information from someone only remotely connected to a suspect in separate offense, even if there is no good reason for the charge.
Offenses against public justice often occur in the midst of other potentially criminal activities and justice system processes. Some such offenses become the hinge on which revolving-door justice turns, such as charges for failure to pay court costs or failure to appear. In these cases, it is important to identify reasons a person did not appear or pay costs. Where persuasive, these reasons can be presented to a court in plea for just consideration.
Free Consultation: Tulsa Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you are charged with a crime against public justice, it will not likely be an average Jane or Joe who was victimized and is clamoring for prosecution. It will more likely be police or prosecutors who know the system and know how it works. They usually have no compelling reason to stand down from charges until a defense attorney explains why charges are flawed. These are charges best addressed by a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.