An Obstruction of Justice charge is usually treated as a Disorderly Persons offenses (misdemeanors) in New Jersey. This means that you face up to six months in jail & a $1000.00 fine if you plead guilty or are found guilty. Your obstruction of justice charges should be taken seriously since a conviction for this crime would stay on your record for 5 years.
Clients charged with obstruction of justice often claim that the police abused their power. This may or may not be true depending on the facts surrounding your case. These charges are often misunderstood & issued freely. As members of a protected class, police officers enjoy great protections. At the moment of arrest, people often panic and either resist the handcuffs or try to push their way out of getting arrested. It is at this point that the police usually add the obstruction of justice charge. While it may seem like an abuse of power, compelling reasons exist that support this charge. Rest assured that we can frequently negotiate to have these charges dismissed through the plea bargaining process. It is not easy, but it is possible.
An obstruction of justice conviction will affect your ability to get & maintain employment when your background check is conducted.
If you are facing obstruction of justice charges, we understand that you are concerned & we will help you. Not every interaction with the police rises to an obstruction of justice charge & it is our job to examine the facts of your case to advise you accordingly.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1, obstruction of justice charges involve:
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.
Some obstruction of justice examples include:
We represented a client in Hackensack, NJ charged with obstruction of justice. They accused him of interfering with the police officer’s ability to arrest a guest at his party. During our client’s free consultation he explained that he from his point of he view, he did not commit obstruction of justice. When he heard his friend complain about how tight the handcuffs, he ran into the room to see what was happening. Our client asked the police officer if he could loosen the handcuffs on his friend. They were too tight & his friend was screaming in pain. The whole incident was caught on a smartphone camera.
We reviewed the smartphone footage & felt that the obstruction of justice charge was weak. At our first NJ court appearance, we met with the prosecutor & showed him the smartphone video. As expected, the prosecutor felt the same way we did. After our meeting with the prosecutor, he agreed to dismiss the criminal charges.
In another case, our client was facing obstruction of justice charges in Newark. Our client was arrested on drug charges & refused to answer any police questions. He clearly stated that he wanted a lawyer & began to use profanity against the police when they continued their questioning. The police added an additional obstruction of justice charge & we were able to get this charge dismissed through plea bargaining.
In our last example, our Jersey City client was charged with resisting arrest & obstruction of justice. This time the police had a strong case. The police video showed our client fighting with the police as they tried to handcuff him. Instead of taking the case to trial, we were able to get the felony charges downgraded to municipal court. Ultimately, our client entered the conditional dismissal program & the resisting arrest & obstruction of justice charges got dismissed.
If you’ve been charged with obstruction of justice, you have the following options:
You will have to admit that you committed obstruction of justice. This option will leave you with a criminal conviction. It will stay on your record for years before it can be expunged. And it will show up a background check.
Plead Guilty to a Downgraded Charge
This is one aspect of plea bargaining. Instead of admitting that you committed obstruction of justice, we will work out a deal with the prosecutor where you plea guilty to a lesser offense.
Go To Trial & Get Acquitted
This means that a judge or jury listened to all of the evidence & decided that you are not guilty of committing obstruction of justice.
Go To Trial & Get Convicted
This means that the judge listened to all of the evidence & decided that you did commit obstruction of justice.
Obstruction of justice charges are probably not the only charges you got. You probably got charged with resisting arrest & assault. Frequently, these charges arise when the police make the decision to arrest you. As they take out their handcuffs & reality sets in, most people panic. The result is that you refuse to be handcuffed and you either push or wrestle with the police. We understand that getting arrested can be a traumatizing & humiliating experience but when you resist, you make matters worse.
Anytime you push a police officer, you will face aggravated assault charges. Since police officers are members of a protected class, a simple assault against a police officer automatically becomes aggravated assault.
The best thing to do when getting arrested is to accept your fate and wait for your day in court. We will fight your charges & help you every step of the way.
Legal defenses to obstruction of justice charges will vary according to the facts of your case. This type of crime is fact-sensitive & much depends on the evidence against you.
Obstruction of Justice Defenses include
1. Your Right To Remain Silent –
This defense boils down to “I do not want to answer any questions until I speak with my lawyer”. You have a constitutional right against self-incrimination. You cannot get convicted of obstruction of justice for asserting your right to remain silent. This is one of the most sacred rights in our land.
2. The Police Did Not Identify Themselves –
You cannot be convicted of obstruction of justice for lying to the police if you did not have knowledge that the person you were speaking to was a police officer. Plain-clothes officers must show you their badge & identify themselves. It makes sense that if the police officer was not wearing his uniform & did not show identification, then there was no way that you could’ve known that you were speaking to law enforcement.
3. Your Actions Were Not Purposeful –
Under NJ’s obstruction of justice law, you must have intended your actions. For example, if you are charged with obstruction of justice because the police claim that you blocked their entrance into a building, then they must show that your action of blocking the entrance was exactly what you intended. If you happened to be in a building’s entrance at the time that the police stormed the building, then we would argue that your actions were not purposeful. Again, every case is unique & it is important to meet with us to discuss the facts of your case.
If you plead guilty or are found guilty of obstruction of justice, you can expunge the arrest and conviction after five years.
If you are acquitted at trial, you will not have a conviction. However, you will need to expunge the “arrest” record.
If you use the Conditional Dismissal program, you will need to wait one year to expunge your arrest record.
It is extremely important to expunge the record of your obstruction of justice arrest because this will pop up on any & all background checks.
Yes. If you decide to take your obstruction of justice case to trial and lose, you have the right to appeal.
Although appeals can be expensive, it’s definitely worth the money to try.
If you feel that you didn’t get a fair trial or that certain evidence was irrelevant or missing, an appeal is a way to go.
We highly recommend that you hire an aggressive, criminal lawyer to represent you for your appeal.
There are specific steps that must be taken to (intelligently) file an appeal.
Please do not try to do this alone, get help!
You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.
Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.
If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.
There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.
The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.
We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars.
When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.
a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;
c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.
***It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.
Reasonable suspicion is a “search” standard that applies in criminal law.
When a police officer conducts a warrantless search, and does not have probable cause to justify the search, the courts look to see if the police had
a “reasonable & articulable suspicion” for the search.
A mere “hunch” is not enough.
In other words, a police officer has to provide an acceptable explanation for the search.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
a. A court imposing a sentence of incarceration for a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of this section shall fix a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.
b. The minimum term required by subsection a. of this section shall be fixed as a part of every sentence of incarceration imposed upon every conviction of a crime enumerated in subsection d. of this section, whether the sentence of incarceration is determined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, N.J.S.2C:43-7, N.J.S.2C:11-3 or any other provision of law, and shall be calculated based upon the sentence of incarceration actually imposed. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed or applied to reduce the time that must be served before eligibility for parole by an inmate sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. Solely for the purpose of calculating the minimum term of parole ineligibility pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be deemed to be 75 years.
c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and in addition to any other sentence imposed, a court imposing a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent of the sentence pursuant to this section shall also impose a five-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the first degree, or a three-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the second degree. The term of parole supervision shall commence upon the completion of the sentence of incarceration imposed by the court pursuant to subsection a. of this section unless the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another crime at the time he completes the sentence of incarceration imposed pursuant to subsection a., in which case the term of parole supervision shall commence immediately upon the defendant’s release from incarceration. During the term of parole supervision the defendant shall remain in release status in the community in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the State Parole Board as if on parole and shall be subject to the provisions and conditions