When Sean Penn traveled to Mexico to interview famed Sinaloan drug lord,
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, he thought it was all about getting
an exclusive interview. What he didn't realize is that his efforts
to interview Guzman likely got the fugitive thrown behind bars. And while
cartel members are likely calling for Penn's head on a platter for
getting their boss thrown in the slammer, this could be the least of his
worries as Penn could now be facing federal obstruction of justice charges.
Penn knew full well that El Chapo was a fugitive, not only from the Mexican
authorities after escaping from Altiplano prison near Mexico City, but
also from the United States Government as he is the subject of numerous
indictments in federal courts around the country charging him with murder
and conspiracy to distribute drugs. Nonetheless, Penn engaged in international
travel for the purpose of meeting with a fugitive and took numerous sophisticated
steps to cover his tracks. Penn used throw-away or "burner"
cell phones, used dummy email accounts, and accessed the internet to communicate
with Guzman knowing that his conduct would help conceal the whereabouts
of a wanted criminal.
What Is Obstruction of Justice
Obstruction of Justice can occur through numerous types of conduct. Most
prevalent among them are:
- Lying to, or misleading investigators during an investigation
- Disclosing the existence of an investigation, or grand jury inquiry, to
a target of the investigation, with the intent that it will hinder it
- Falsification of evidence
Could Penn Go to Jail for This?
If prosecutors were to charge Penn with obstruction of justice, they would
have to prove that he
committed a crime in the United States. As noted above, his engaging in international travel
and using the internet to meet with El Chapo while concealing his location
could be a big problem. The key is that prosecutors would need to show
that Penn acted with the intent to somehow frustrate El Chapo's apprehension
by United States authorities. If prosecutors can make their case and prove
that Penn was not only incredibly stupid, but that that he committed the
crime, the former Mr. Spicoli could spend up to 5 years in federal prison
- one that he likely won't be able to tunnel out of.
Help Is a Phone Call Away
You don't have to be a Hollywood actor to get award-winning legal representation
if you are charged with obstruction of justice or any other serious
white collar crime. Jason Lamm earned his reputation as one of Phoenix's best white collar
criminal defense attorneys, due to his attention to detail and outstanding
case results. If you or someone close to you is charged with a serious
criminal offense and is looking to hire a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer
who can make things right,
contact Jason at (602) 663-9100 to set up a personal and confidential consultation.