Obstruction of Justice
Commonly referred to as obstruction of justice, this statute is set out broadly to include almost any interference with police. It encompasses numerous offenses such as: resisting arrest, eluding arrest, hindering apprehension or prosecution, and tampering with evidence.N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1 Provides:
- A person commits an offense if he purposely obstructs, impairs or perverts the administration of law or other governmental function or prevents or attempts to prevent a public servant from lawfully performing an official function by means of flight, intimidation, force, violence, or physical interference or obstacle, or by means of any independently unlawful act. This section does not apply to failure to perform a legal duty other than an official duty, or any other means of avoiding compliance with law without affirmative interference with governmental functions.
- An offense under this section is a crime of the fourth degree if the actor obstructs the detection or investigation of a crime or the prosecution of a person for a crime, otherwise it is a disorderly persons offense.
In order to be convicted of this offense, the prosecutor must prove the defendant took an affirmative action to obstruct, impair, or prevent the administration of law or government function. Words alone are not enough. Nonetheless, words combined with physical actions or threats are enough to constitute obstruction.
Generally, obstruction charges are a disorderly persons offense heard in municipal court. If convicted, you may face up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The charge may be upgraded to a fourth degree offense if a person obstructs an official function pertaining to a crime or the investigation of a crime. In this situation the case will be handled in Superior Court and upon conviction more serious penalties may be imposed including up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you have been charged with obstruction it is imperative to speak with an attorney right away to discuss your options. Depending on your prior criminal history you may be eligible for Pre Trial Intervention (PTI). Successful completion of this program means there will be no criminal conviction on your record. The criminal defense attorneys at our New Jersey law firm are eager to assist you. We are available to answer any questions you may have during a free consultation.