Obstruction of Justice - The Basics

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.

As Hackensack criminal lawyers, we represent clients charged with obstruction of justice in Bergen County and the neighboring three counties, Essex, Hudson, & Passaic County.

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.

Obstruction of Justice Law - 2C:29-1

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:

  • Coming to your friend’s aid while a police officer is making an arrest;
  • Preventing a police officer from questioning a suspect; 
  • Blocking a police officer from entering a building that he/she is lawfully permitted to enter.
  • Answering a police officer’s questions untruthfully
  • Tampering with or destroying evidence
  • Interfering with witnesses that are a part of an ongoing investigation

Obstruction of Justice - 3 Real Cases

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.

Obstruction of Justice - Your options

If you’ve been charged with obstruction of justice, you have the following options:

Plead Guilty

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 Jutice & Companion Charges

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.

Obstruction of Justice - Legal Defenses

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.

Can An Obstruction of Justice Conviction get Expunged?

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.

If I'm convicted at trial, can I appeal?

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!

Our Experience

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.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

How We Can Help

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.

Our Practice Areas

Below, you will find a few of our practice areas.

Areas We Serve

Our Hackensack criminal lawyers represent clients in Bergen County & nearby counties & cities. 

Get Help With Your Case

How Do Your Free Consultations Work?

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.

What our clients say about us

Peyrouton Law
5.0
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Bank Sinatra
Bank Sinatra
23:07 15 Oct 20
Not going to get into detailBut I spoke to a femaleBy the name of SameraWho really helped me see things clearer& Understand my rightsSo I could weigh my optionsAlan came in & he's what I call no nenseStraight down to businessNot Guilty when it's finishedJust wanted to publicly sayThey're the best that I've witnessedThis my 1st reviewNot somethin I'd typically doBut other ppl in my shoes would've plead out to 2Paid double the fees & the retainerSalute to them I'm not a detainerAnd I'm home wit my family rappin for strangers lol
Matthew Jenner
Matthew Jenner
21:28 14 Oct 20
Alan and his team were professional and competent. Alan was always available to offer advice and answer any questions I had. I will recommend Peyrouton Law to friends and family in the future.
Lissette Guzman
Lissette Guzman
18:15 14 Oct 20
One word for this firm OUTSTANDING!!
Ronald Yee
Ronald Yee
00:27 06 Oct 20
Outstanding is the only word that not even comes close to both Mr. Alan Peyrouton, Esq. and Office Manager/Paralegal Ms. Samera Cerva!Although the infraction could have been not only a fine plus incarceration,Mr. Alan negotiated to a fine and settlement of one- half of what was listed as the usual cash amount. Indeed, this law firm gave constant "Personal Touch," and for which there are no words in the English language which can properly convey my thoughts of appreciation.Whenever there was a question and doubt about anything, this law firm answered every question. No additional charges were attached with any telephone call and/or E-mail sent!Advice was also given how to EXPUNGE this legal issue and will continue with the Peyrouton Law Firm until records removal.One can not go wrong by selecting this Exceptional Law Firm.Exceptional Value, Personal Service, Professionalism, Etc. All: Outstanding!!Respectfully submitted,Ronald Yee- Continuing Client.
Rock'd
Rock'd
19:42 19 Aug 20
For many like myself, finding a good lawyer is a must. I was caught in a situation I shouldn't have been in, and Alan was recommended to me through a friend. I'm forever grateful to have found Alan, because most lawyers wont fight tooth and nail to make sure you get the best deal or outcome. Alan was more than patient with me and assured me he would do all he can, and he exceeded my expectations. Thank you Alan!
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미셀줌마michell-zoomma
22:04 03 Aug 20
알란 변호사를 만나게 된것은인생의 최고의 행운이었습니다. 아주 프로페셔날하고 빠른 일처리로 최고의 만족스러운 결과를 만들어준 알란에게 큰 감사를 드립니다.좀더 많은 한국분들이 도움을 받았으면 좋겠네요.형사전문과 더불어 이민법과 연결해서 최상의 결과를 만들어 줍니다.I was really lucky to find Alan. At first call, I trust him while we talk about my case. He made best result in my case. Alan is the best criminal lawyer in New Jersey. Thank you Alan and his team(specially Samera).Thank you again in my whole life.this is another thank you to alan(from my email)Dear Alan,I couldn't say thank you enough this morning. Now I realized how big of an issue it was.I believed you and trusted you when I was in NJ so I never doubted that I would possibly go to jail.Thank you for everything. There will be more to go but thank you again.I am holding my tears back until my hubby comes back home.See you soon!Michelle😍😭
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Dom O
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00:36 01 Aug 20
I’m very grateful for all the hard work and effort Peyrouton Law put fourth in my case! Alan is a lawyer who cares and strives to get the best outcome for all of his clients ! He’s like a dog with a bone, he never gives up on you !During the most stressful time in my life they were there for me, fighting for me all the way. Texts to see how me and my family and to keep me informed of all overwhelming court business. I know if I didn’t have Peyrouton Law on my side I wouldn’t have found a better lawyer to help with everything like they did. Anyone who needs a help, compassion at more than reasonable law fees, you couldn’t find a better lawyer !!
Jerry Rivera
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02:18 29 Jul 20
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ceci Liu
ceci Liu
01:43 25 Jul 20
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A person extorts if he purposely threatens to:

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 Articulable Suspicion

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.

United States Constitution

Amendment IV

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.

NJSA - 2C:43-7.2.
Eligibility for parole;
persons convicted of certain violent crimes

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

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines

Examples

First-Degree

1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Prison terms start at a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Second-Degree

2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison.
These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.

Third-Degree

3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with a 3rd-degree.

Fourth-Degree

4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. These cases can get “remanded” to a lower court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.