Interfering with police is much more than a nuisance to the officer. Obstructing justice is a crime that could land you behind bars, stain your criminal record, and forever mark you as a vagrant in the eyes of law enforcement officials. Consequently, it is crucial to understand what obstruction of justice truly is and the penalties associated with it.
What is Obstruction of Justice?
New Jersey labels “obstruction of justice” as “obstructing the administration of law,” but both terms really mean the same thing. Obstructing the administration of law is a very broad crime that involves almost any interference with a police officer’s attempt to carry out his job.
More specifically, under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1, obstructing the administration of law involves purposefully obstructing, impairing, or perverting the administration of law (or another governmental function) or attempting to prevent (or actually preventing) a public servant from lawfully performing an official function by means of flight, intimidation, force, violence, physical interference, or through any independently unlawful act.
The key here is the method of interference that the law prohibits. As noted above, flight, intimidation, force, violence, physical interference, and independently unlawful acts are the types of obstruction that the law penalizes. This means any act of interference that is not a crime of its own (an “independently unlawful act”) or one of the other methods of interference cannot be considered obstructing the administration of law.
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For example, New Jersey courts have determined that mere words are not enough to constitute an interference that could give rise to a charge for obstructing the administration of law. Likewise, in order to get convicted, you must have taken an affirmative step to actually prevent the officer from doing something. Lastly, your interference or obstruction of justice must have prevented the officer from doing something he had proper legal authority to do. As such, preventing an officer from doing something unlawful will not usually amount to obstructing the administration of law.
Penalties For Obstruction of Justice in NJ
Obstructing the administration of law (i.e. obstruction of justice) is usually charged as a disorderly persons offense. However, if you obstruct the detection or investigation of a crime or the prosecution of a person for a crime, you can be charged with a fourth degree crime.
- If the crime is charged as a disorderly persons offense, you can face up to 6 months in jail and be forced to pay a fine of up to $1,000.
- If the crime is elevated to a fourth degree crime, you can face up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Remember, a conviction results in a criminal record and will make getting a job (or keeping one) even tougher in an already difficult economy. Therefore, be sure to contact an experienced NJ criminal defense attorney who can help you avoid the conviction in the first place.
Who Should You Contact?
If you or a loved one has been charged with obstructing the administration of law (i.e. obstruction of justice in NJ), contact Adam H. Rosenblum of The Rosenblum Law Firm today. His team of New Jersey criminal defense attorneys will do what they can in order to protect your legal rights and fight to keep you out of prison. E-mail or call 888-815-3649 today.