Updated: February 12, 2021
What is Interfering with Judicial Proceedings in Arizona?
ARS 13-2810 makes it a crime in Arizona to “interfere with judicial proceedings.” What this commonly means is that a person is alleged to have violated an order of protection or injunction against harassment, a.k.a., a judicial restraining order. The law covers more scenarios than just violations of injunctions against harassment, but this is the most common way for a person to pick up charges under ARS 13-2810.
Interfering with Judicial Proceedings is a class 1 misdemeanor. Luckily, this is not a felony, however, is still carries potentially serious penalties, including up to 6 months in jail and hefty fines. Furthermore, if it is charged as a domestic violence offense, then interference with judicial proceedings may lead to charges of aggravated domestic violence, which is a class 5 felony.
If you have been charged with interfering with judicial proceedings (often called “IJP” for short), a defense attorney maybe able to negotiate a diversion offer, which can lead to a dismissal of your charges. However, this is not guaranteed and will depend on each case’s unique facts.
A.R.S. § 13-2810 Defined
A person commits interfering with judicial proceedings if such person knowingly:
- (1) Engages in disorderly, disrespectful or insolent behavior during the session of a court which directly tends to interrupt its proceedings or impairs the respect due to its authority; or
- (2) Disobeys or resists the lawful order, process or other mandate of a court; or
- (3) Refuses to be sworn or affirmed as a witness in any court proceeding; or
- (4) Publishes a false or grossly inaccurate report of a court proceeding; or
- (5) Refuses to serve as a juror unless exempted by law; or
- (6) Fails inexcusably to attend a trial at which he has been chosen to serve as a juror.
Penalties for Interference with Judicial Proceedings
If a person is convicted of interference with judicial proceedings, a class 1 misdemeanor, then the following punishments are possible:
- Up to 6 months in jail
- Fines of up to $2,500
- Treatment and rehabilitation classes
This is My First Offense: Is Diversion an Option?
Some courts in Arizona offer what are known as “diversion programs” for first time offenders. This is not a guarantee, and whether it is offered will depend on the unique circumstances of an individual’s case. However, if you are able to secure a diversion offer, it is often a good outcome because it allows for the case to be dismissed outright if the defendant agrees to take a certain number of court-ordered classes.
Under a diversion program, a defendant avoids the risks of trial and having a conviction on their criminal record.
If a defendant has already gone through a diversion program or if the circumstances of the crime are more serious than usual, then diversion may not be an option.
If diversion is not initially offered by the prosecutor, a defense attorney may be able to negotiate for a diversion offer if there is a good reason to do so. This is called submitting a “deviation request,” and in when this happens the defense attorney compiles evidence to mitigate a defendant’s guilt and presents it to the prosecutor to convince the state to offer more lenient terms.
Defenses to Interference with Judicial Proceedings
- No Valid Legal Service: One of the elements of the crime that the State must show is that the defendant was under the restrictions of a valid court order. It is not only necessary for the State to show that such an order existed; however, it must also show that the defendant was legally served with the order. This will require the prosecution to present proof of legal service of the order on the defendant. The mere fact that the order exists is not enough.
- No Injunction Against Harassment: Injunctions against harassment usually will expire within a year of the initial court order. If the order is not renewed, then there may no longer be any judicial order that restricts the actions of the defendant. The first order of business in defending against an IJP proceeding is therefore to carefully check the court records to confirm whether or not an order existed or was still in effect at the time that the defendant is accused of violating it.
How Salwin Law Can Help You
If you’ve been charged with interference with judicial proceedings, an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Salwin Law Group can help you with your case today. Stewart Salwin provides free consultations on domestic violence related charges. Call today to see how we can help you get the best possible defense to your charges.