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Seriously, Keep Your Shirt On … OMG!

You’ve had a long night answering call after call—he-saids, she-saids, chasing a Peeping Tom through back yards and alleys, a couple of drunks arguing over a near-empty bottle of Ripple, kids spray-painting Smiley Faces on stop signs, and the guy who insisted he was Jesus and attempted to prove it by damning you to hell a few dozen times after you refused to give him ten dollars.

Yep, a looonnnggg night and it was only half over when Jimmy Bob “Peanut” Lawson, Jr. decided to join forces with his good friend Jack Daniels to blacken both of his wife’s eyes.

Well, Earlene, the wife, wasn’t about to stand for that so she poked ‘ol Peanut in the gut a couple of times with a dull kitchen knife. Didn’t break the skin, mind you, but the act was just enough to send Peanut off the deep end. Oh, he was plenty mad about it, yellin’ and screamin’ and stompin’ his Doc Martens across the linoleum, kicking at Porkchop, the family’s three-legged dog. But Porkchop, having been to this freak show one too many times in the past, knew to stay ten or twelve dog-dish-lengths away from his master’s size twelves.

After about several minutes of plate, bowl, and pot-and-pan-throwing, one of the kids, a snot-nosed, freckle-faced boy of around ten or so, picked up the cordless and punched the speed dial button for 911.

So you show up, and Peanut, a Friday night regular, meets you in the driveway, huffing and puffing like an old coal-fired locomotive engine.

Now here’s where things could get a little dicey, so it’s best to run down the unwritten checklist you keep tucked away in your head. You know, size him up. Is he armed? Is he really going to attack? Or, is all that chest-thumping and Tarzan-yelling just a show for the neighbors? Well, you’d better find out in a hurry because he’s starting to spin like the Tasmanian Devil cartoon character.

How can you tell if this guy means business, or not? Well, let’s have a quick peek at the telltale signs that most crooks offer that’ll help you evaluate the situation.

Since weapons and other items that are capable of puncturing your flesh are your first concern, here are some common indicators that Peanut is carrying a hidden gun or knife. For example:

1. It’s 97 degrees outside and Peanut is wearing his heavily-insulated, blood-stained orange hunting jacket. Yes, Einstein, he’s probably wearing it to hide a sawed-off shotgun, the one Daddy gave him for Christmas when he was three. The chew marks on the stock are proof the gun was a go-to favorite during teething (his mama says he was a late starter).

2. The tail of his flannel shirt is out, but one side is riding higher than the other. A great sign that he’s wearing a weapon on the “high side.”

3. Sometimes, wearing a shirt tail on the outside is a sign that he might be carrying a weapon. Unfortunately, it’s also a sign to crooks, which means they might recognize you as an undercover officer.

Now, for the signs that Peanut is about to attempt to stomp your butt into the mud, and this one is a real doozy …

1. For some unknown reason, many offenders/would-be attackers seem to feel the need to rip off their shirts prior to delivering the first blow. Therefore, when a drunk starts ripping cloth and zinging buttons across the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, well, that might be a good time to reach for the pepper spray because he has not-so-subtly announced his intentions. There’s plenty of time to grab the spray, by the way, because the shirt-ripping and cussing and hollering and posturing and yelling things about your mother takes quite a while to complete.

They sometimes decide to fight wearing nothing but …

I’ve even encountered a couple of losers who decided to fight me while wearing only their tighty-not-so-whities. Believe me, the sight is not one you can easily forget. And then there’s the uncomfortable situation of having to place your hands on a nearly naked person who’s almost always sweating profusely while smelling like like the south end of a northbound skunk.

Anyway, the shirt-ripping is usually accompanied by lots of top-of-the-lung screaming and yelling, especially nasty comments about your wife and mother. Sometimes I wonder if the latter is because theirs (mother and wife) are possibly one and the same.

Of course, if this is what you see when the shirt comes off, well, maybe it’s time re-think your career choice.

2. Another clue that Peanut is about “go for it” is when he starts glancing at a particular spot on your body, like your throat, stomach, or even a knee. Instantly, you should go on alert for a possible strike to that area. Peanut is announcing his intentions and he’s ready to pounce.

3. Peanut glances behind you, continually, or to a spot off to your right just out of your line of sight. Watch out, because his partner may be approaching for a rear ambush. And, his partner just might be Mrs. Peanut. Yes, even though her “loving husband” had just moments ago beat the ever-loving snot out of her she’ll often defend her man until the bitter end. Unfortunately, the end sometimes results in a funeral … hers.

These quick glances are also good indicators that Peanut has a hidden weapon nearby. For example, you’ve stopped Peanut for drunk driving and he’s constantly looking toward the glove compartment. Well, there’s a good chance that a weapon or other illegal items are concealed there.

The Lights Are On But Nobody’s Home

4. You arrive on scene and you approach Peanut, who is standing still, staring off into space—the “lights are on but nobody’s home” look. His jaw is clenched and he’s sweating profusely, even though you’re both standing in two feet of freshly-fallen New England snow (New England snow, to me, is the coldest snow on the planet). He doesn’t respond to you in any way, but you see the anger rising. Face is growing redder by the second. Veins poking out on his forehead. Eyes bulging. Yeah, you get the idea. Believe me, it is time to take a step back and start pulling every tool you’ve got on your duty belt because this guy’s getting ready to blow. Silence is definitely not golden in this case.

5. Peanut might be a “I’m not going to look at you” kind of personality. This is another indicator that an assault may be on the way. If he’s staring at place on the ground, refusing to listen and obey your verbal commands, then be prepared for an attack. At the very least, be prepared for a battle when the time comes to snap on the cuffs.

I guess a good rule of thumb is to always assume the worst and hope for the best, which includes delivering the bad guy to the county jail without a single scratch on either of you.

Angry prisoner

 

 

Obstructing Justice

Obstruction of justice is a sort of loose term of varied meanings. It’s a phrase that’s sometimes used incorrectly, and sometimes as a threat.

“You don’t tell us what we want to know we’re going to charge your 109-year-old grandma with obstructing. That’s right, she’ll go to prison for 10 years! Do you want that on your conscious?” said the mean and mostly nasty federal agent.

So what is obstruction of justice? Does it mean to physically stop an officer from carrying out a specific duty? How about words? Could a string of them, when spoken, bring about a charge of obstruction? What about lying to the police? After all, aren’t all spoken words, even lies, protected by the First Amendment?

Let’s first address the definition of Obstruction of Justice per Black’s Law Dictionary, a reference book you’ll find in nearly every law office in the country, as well as in the offices of many police detectives.

From Black’s Law Dictionary:

What is OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE?

The noncompliance with the legal system by interfering with (1) the law administration or procedures, (2) not fully disclosing information or falsifying statements, and (3) inflicting damage on an officer, juror or witness.So there it is in black and white. Any or all of the above could land someone in deep trouble, and maybe even behind bars, for a long time.Breaking the law down even further, specifically to a single state, the Commonwealth of Virginia, it looks like this:

§ 18.2-460. Obstructing justice; resisting arrest; penalty.

A. If any person without just cause knowingly obstructs a judge, magistrate, justice, juror, attorney for the Commonwealth, witness, any law-enforcement officer, or animal control officer employed pursuant to § 3.2-6555 in the performance of his duties as such or fails or refuses without just cause to cease such obstruction when requested to do so by such judge, magistrate, justice, juror, attorney for the Commonwealth, witness, law-enforcement officer, or animal control officer employed pursuant to § 3.2-6555, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.B. Except as provided in subsection C, any person who, by threats or force, knowingly attempts to intimidate or impede a judge, magistrate, justice, juror, attorney for the Commonwealth, witness, any law-enforcement officer, or an animal control officer employed pursuant to § 3.2-6555 lawfully engaged in his duties as such, or to obstruct or impede the administration of justice in any court, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.C. If any person by threats of bodily harm or force knowingly attempts to intimidate or impede a judge, magistrate, justice, juror, attorney for the Commonwealth, witness, any law-enforcement officer, lawfully engaged in the discharge of his duty, or to obstruct or impede the administration of justice in any court relating to a violation of or conspiracy to violate § 18.2-248 or subdivision (a) (3), (b) or (c) of § 18.2-248.1, or § 18.2-46.2 or § 18.2-46.3, or relating to the violation of or conspiracy to violate any violent felony offense listed in subsection C of § 17.1-805, he shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.

D. Any person who knowingly and willfully makes any materially false statement or representation to a law-enforcement officer or an animal control officer employed pursuant to § 3.2-6555 who is in the course of conducting an investigation of a crime by another is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

 Federal Law – Obstruction

As you could imagine, federal laws regarding obstruction, or any other offense, is detailed and detailed and detailed almost beyond comprehension. So, here’s the tidbit most relevant to this article, and it goes like this …

“Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress—

Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.”

So make of it what you wish. But whatever you do, please save political comments for your own pages. Please, not even a whimper or hint. I’m just a messenger of fact.

Now, back to Spud from the top photo. Apparently, he lied and told Officer P. Tater that he hadn’t seen anything (we assume the officer was referring to a crime or something related to criminal activity).

Based upon what you’ve read above, if he was lying to the officer, who was conducting an official investigation, could Spud be charged with obstruction? If so, why? If no, why not?