Obstruction the Administration of Justice, or “Obstruction,” or “Obstructing Justice” is a common quasi-criminal charge made by police in New Jersey. It is generally an NJ disorderly persons offense, which subjects the defendant to up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The applicable New Jersey statute is NJSA 2C:29-1, which provides: 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.
Police sometimes issue these charges without any sound legal or factual basis. Typically when you simply do (or fail to do) something they want you to do when you have every right to simply refuse. Common scenarios are when an individual declines to implicate his or herself or another in a crime. Remember, defendants have the right to remain silent! There is therefore usually a good defense available if you are charged with Obstructing the Administration of Justice in New Jersey.