Philadelphia Criminal Law News

Phil. Prosecutor Charged in 'Revenge' Crime Case

A Philadelphia prosecutor resigned last week, after being charged in a "revenge" crime case with making false reports and obstruction of justice, Philadelphia's WCAU reports.

Assistant District Attorney Lynn Nichols is being accused of using her influence to pressure a police officer to remove a stolen vehicle report to protect her then-boyfriend. After the break-up, however, as her form of revenge, she then allegedly called 9-1-1 to falsely report a vehicle as stolen.

Here's an overview of what Nichols' charges mean -- in general and for her professional career as a prosecutor:

Obstruction of Justice and Making False Reports

Obstruction of justice usually refers to the general crime of interfering with government officials and their process. In this case, it was the police. Some common examples of obstruction of justice include when a police officer is bribed or when a judge is being threatened.

The definition of obstruction of justice varies from state to state. In Pennsylvania, one is found guilty of obstructing the administration of law, or other governmental function, if she intentionally obstructs, impairs, or perverts the administration of law or other governmental function by an unlawful act.

Making false reports to law enforcement or official government authorities is also illegal in Pennsylvania, and refers to the act of falsely incriminating another or making fictitious reports. In other words, it is illegal to report an offense that one knows did not actually occur or  to pretend to furnish information relating to an offense when one knows that it was false or unrelated.

Additional Penalties for Lawyers

As a licensed attorney, Nichols may face additional penalties for her alleged acts from the Pennsylvania State Bar Association, including disbarment. Lawyers are not only expected to abide by state and federal laws, but are also held to a higher ethical standard, under ethical codes like the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

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