Obstructing the Administration of Justice

New Jersey Obstruction Offenses

Criminal Lawyer & Former Prosecutor

The New Jersey Criminal Code includes a criminal and disorderly persons offense commonly referred to as obstruction. If you have been charged with this offense, the attorneys at the NJ criminal defense law firm of the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can assist you. Our criminal lawyers are experienced in handling obstruction cases and a lawyer is available immediately to speak to you about your Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Union County, Ocean County, Atlantic County, Mercer County, Burlington County, Somerset County, Essex County, Bergen County, Passaic County or Hudson County case. Please do not hesitate to contact our law office if you are in need of representation as initial consultations with an attorney are without charge.

New Jersey Obstruction Law

The New Jersey obstruction law, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1, provides as follows:

2C:29-1. Obstructing administration of law or other governmental function

a. 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.

b. 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.

Explanation of the Law

The offense of obstruction is intended to supplement other Criminal Code violations involving interference with law enforcement functions and is drafted broadly to encompass a wide range of behavior to impede police. An individual may be charged with either a disorderly persons offense or fourth-degree crime for obstructing the administration of law or justice under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1. If the offense is filed as a disorderly persons charge, it is a misdemeanor offense customarily handled in municipal court and involves up to six (6) months in jail exposure. The fourth-degree version of the offense is an indictable felony offense which is litigated at the New Jersey Superior Court level and involves up to eighteen (18) months in jail. The following is an explanation of each pedigree of obstructing.

N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1 prohibits specific conduct to obstruct, impair or prevent the administration of law including: (1) flight; (2) intimidation; (3) force; (4) violence; (5) physical interference; (6) obstacle; and (7) other unlawful act. It should be noted that “words” are not included in the list of prohibited acts and that is because words alone are typically insufficient to prevent a police officer from doing his job and thereby constitute a violation under this section. See U.S. v. Myers, 700 F. Supp. 1358 (D.N.J. 1988); see also State v. Camillo, 382 N.J. Super. 113 (App. Div. 2005)(failure to provide complete personal information is not an obstructing violation). However, where words are combined with physical threats, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1 may be charged.

It should be emphasized that there must be some affirmative act on the part of a defendant for a charge of obstruction to be proper. The suspect must engage in an affirmative act whose conscious object is to obstruct, impair or pervert the administration of law or other governmental function. Absent an affirmative act of this nature, a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1 cannot be established.

The offense of obstruction escalates to a fourth-degree offense when the obstruction involves “detection or investigation of a crime or the prosecution of a person for a crime.”

If you require assistance because of an obstruction arrest or charge, the lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are available to assist you. An attorney from our New Jersey criminal defense law firm will be happy to answer your questions and to outline a plan to defend your obstruction charge. Do not hesitate to contact our attorneys as initial consultations with our law office and a lawyer are free of charge. We handle obstruction cases statewide including Atlantic County, Ocean County, Mercer County, Burlington County, Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Union County, Somerset County, Morris County, Essex County, Passaic County, Bergen County and Hudson County.