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
Based on 105 reviews
Edie Nolan
Edie Nolan
21:52 18 Apr 20
The office of Peyrouton Law Helped my family so much, I can't put it into words how much. The day we walked into the office we explained our situation to Alan and his associates and they took on our situation like we were family.
Edward Estupinan
Edward Estupinan
18:04 09 Mar 20
The Peyrouton Law firm is the place to go to if you need great representation. Extremely knowledgeable, honest and prompt. Alan and Kevin got our family through a very difficult and emotional matter quickly and with ease. The office was highly professional, responsive and compassionate. They kept us informed and advised us wisely throughout the entire process. I highly recommend this firm. Karen & Ed E.
traviscp longendyke
traviscp longendyke
15:41 04 Feb 20
Hey, this is Travis. Hope all is well with you guys. I just wanted to reach out and truly thank you guys for everything you did for me and my family and also believing in me at a point when I barely believed in myself. I am off the "conditional probation", and everything is over with. We have our three little beautiful girls (which The youngest just turned one a few days ago), we both have amazing jobs where we are very blessed to be making what we are making for our family, and we are in the process and about to go into contract with buying our first home (a BEAUTIFUL 400,000 dollar home).... Lizzy and myself just wanted to truly thank you guys for believing in me and doing everything you could so I can be in this amazing spot in life that my family is in. I owe a lot of this to you guys and I hope you know what you do does not go unappreciated and you guys are making a huge impact and you guys are a huge help on certain people's lives. This above was a text message that I just sent to Alan and Kevin. For anyone who is looking for AMAZING people to represent you, that will literally do anything and everything they can for you to receive the best outcome, then these are the people you want, I PROMISE you that. They literally made miracles happen on my multiple cases. Alan from day one made me promise him that I would do everything I could to better my life. I did that and in return I received the most amazing lawyers who went above and beyond for me and my family. I couldn’t of created a better pair of lawyers to represent me. If anyone is looking for great results on your case please give Alan and Kevin a shot and I promise you (because I owe a lot of my success right now to these men) that you will not be disappointed and they will do everything they can for you.
Jose Nose
Jose Nose
22:17 03 Feb 20
Alan and Kevin helped me avoid prison on huge drug charges. Then, they beat my DUI case. They’re the perfect combination of aggressive and humble lawyers. Fees are very reasonable and they really cared about me. I totally recommend. My lawyers for life.
Geraldino Fils
Geraldino Fils
00:32 01 Feb 20
Omar Newell
Omar Newell
18:07 23 Jan 20
MY LAWYERS FOR LIFE!!!!!Alan and Kevin are the Best!!!!!!Most genuine lawyers I’ve ever met...they were very detailed and kept me informed about the process every step of the way... These guys have a genuine passion for law and will work endlessly to ensure a favorable outcome... they treat you like family which is what everyone needs when faced with a situation...
Erico Pilates
Erico Pilates
03:18 16 Jan 20
Thank you Dr Peyrouton for your professional advice on my closing issue and for helping me with my litigation case. I am super grateful for a speedy successful outcome on this process.
njfirearms
njfirearms
05:03 01 Jan 20
Alan and his team have worked magic on cases and are the easiest to work with of the attorney's I know. I am impressed by how they get things done and their success with cases large and small. Always the first call I make when either I or my clients need counsel.
yuksel
yuksel
19:59 19 Dec 19
I was arrested for a 3rd-degree felony case. I spent 5 hours searching for a good NJ criminal defense lawyer online. Every lawyer I called was in a rush and demanded a lot of money. I didn't like how many of these lawyers talked to me either.When I discovered Peyrouton Law, I checked their reviews. Every review was perfect and I was skeptical. Nobody can be so perfect.I talked to Alan on the phone and made a free appointment to come in and see him.Alan and Kevin explained everything to me very clearly. They answered all of my questions patiently. I never felt rushed.Because of my special circumstances, they took my case for an extremely reasonable flat fee. Honestly, they treated me like a brother.Within a few weeks, they were able to get my felony case downgraded to a misdemeanor.Long story short, I ended up paying a small fine for a municipal ordinance.As a client, I only had to go to court only three times.Even though my case is over, I will continue to keep in contact with Alan and Kevin.I consider them excellent people and they've become trusted friends.If any of my friends or family members ever need a lawyer, I will just grab them by the hand and take them to see Alan and Kevin.You know, when I got arrested, I was humiliated, lost my vacation time, and lost a lot of sleep but the best part of this whole thing is that I made two great friends for life...
Brian Galbraith
Brian Galbraith
23:43 12 Dec 19
Alan and Kevin were the first attorneys I've ever needed for any criminal matter in my life. I was speaking with other potential attorneys for my hire and they were all very nasty and and in a hurry. upon hiring Allen he appointed Kevin Brown to my case. Kevin always listened to everything I had to say, took every detail into account and given that I work for a government agency he saved my career from going into the gutter. I had a felony dropped down to a disorderly persons offense and drop down finally to a municipal ordinance charge which leaves me with no criminal record. I could not thank either of you enough and I don't think that the retainer fee was even enough. Alan and Kevin both saved me and I am forever grateful. if you want good results and honest advice with a touch of hospitality and great customer service hire them now, get their business card and keep it in your wallet just in case. Five stars well-deserved.
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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.