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What is Resisting Arrest in New Jersey?

When individuals are under arrest, some have the impulse to pull away, retreat, or resist. However, resisting arrest in New Jersey is treated as obstructing law enforcement during the performance of their official duties. Interfering with a law enforcement’s attempts to make an arrest is a criminal offense in New Jersey. If you or someone you care about is being accused of resisting arrest, consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney at Forrester Law Firm to analyze your specific situation and advise you on your defense options. Call 609-613-1513 to schedule a case review.

What Is Resisting Arrest in New Jersey?

New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 2C:29-2 prohibits both resisting arrest and eluding officer. These criminal offenses can be classified as a disorderly persons offense or crime depending on the circumstances of the arrest. New Jersey does not use the terms “misdemeanor” and “felony” when classifying criminal offenses as most other states do. Instead, the state uses the terms “disorderly persons offense” and “crime.” When an individual intentionally interfered or attempted to interfere with a law enforcement officer’s attempt to make a lawful arrest, resisting arrest would be classified as a disorderly persons offense.

When Is Resisting Arrest a Crime (Felony) in New Jersey?

Under the following circumstances, an individual resisting arrest can face a higher level of criminal charge:

  • Fourth-degree resisting arrest. The defendant runs from the law enforcement to purposefully attempt to prevent the officer from lawfully arresting him/her.
  • Third-degree resisting arrest. The defendant uses force or violence against the law enforcement officer or another person. Alternatively, the defendant acts in a way that creates a significant risk of physical violence to anyone.
  • Third-degree eluding arrest. The defendant uses any type of vehicle to purposefully flee or attempt to flee when the police demand them to stop.
  • Second-degree eluding arrest. The defendant creates a significant risk of injury or death to others when using any type of vehicle to flee or attempt to flee from the police.

In most cases, a law enforcement officer performs a lawful arrest because a suspect is charged with another crime. However, even the fact that the defendant was innocent of the underlying crime does not undo the resisting arrest charge.

Penalties for Resisting and Eluding Arrest

While resisting arrest in New Jersey is a disorderly persons offense, punishable by up to six months in jail, it can be elevated to a fourth- or third-degree crime if any of the above-mentioned conditions exist. The following penalties are associated with the crime of resisting arrest:

  • A fourth-degree crime of resisting arrest is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 18 months.
  • A third-degree crime (both resisting and eluding arrest) can lead to up to five years in prison.
  • The defendant is facing up to 10 years in prison for a second-degree crime of eluding arrest.

In addition to a jail/prison sentence, individuals convicted of resisting arrest may also face hefty fines, probation, a suspension of the driver’s license, and restitution. Consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney at The Forrester Law Firm to review your particular situation and determine what defense options are available in your specific case.

Defenses to Resisting Arrest Charges in New Jersey

Contrary to popular belief, an individual cannot use their innocence to an underlying criminal offense as a defense to resisting arrest because it is a separate offense not connected to the charge that got them arrested in the first place. Depending on the circumstances of the arrest, the defendant might use the following defense strategies to avoid a conviction for resisting arrest:

  • Lack of intent. In order to convict someone of resisting arrest in New Jersey, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had the intent to interfere with the arrest. For this reason, the defendant may avoid a conviction if they can prove that they did not intentionally attempt to prevent the officer from performing their official duties.
  • Self-defense against unjustified use of force. According to the official website of the New Jersey Judiciary Court System, an individual may use force to defend themselves if they reasonably believe that they are protecting themselves from the unlawful or unjustified force.
  • You were not aware that the person was a police officer. A defendant facing resisting arrest charges may argue that they did not know that the person was a police officer because they did not wear a uniform or did not identify themselves. The defense might be applicable if the officer was acting while off duty.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Resisting Arrest in New Jersey

These are some of the most common questions about resisting arrest charges in New Jersey:

Will I Go to Jail for Resisting Arrest if I Have No Criminal Record?

Whether or not resisting arrest charges will lead to a jail or prison sentence depends on the facts of the offense and the number of prior convictions on the defendant’s record. For first-time offenders facing fourth-degree resisting arrest charges, the court may not impose jail time.

Can Resisting Arrest Charges Be Dismissed or Reduced?

Whether the prosecutor will agree dismiss or reduce resisting arrest charges depends on a multitude of factors, including the circumstances of the arrest, the defendant’s prior convictions, and the underlying charge.

Can Juveniles Be Convicted of Resisting Arrest in New Jersey?

Juveniles can be found guilty of resisting arrest if they prevented or hindered an arrest. The consequences can be rather severe, as the juvenile facing adjudication for resisting arrest could result in probation and detention in a juvenile facility. If your child is accused of resisting arrest, consider contacting a knowledgeable attorney to discuss how you can protect your child’s future.

Criminal Defense Lawyers at Forrester Law Firm

If you or someone you care about is facing charges for resisting arrest in New Jersey, consider speaking with an experienced lawyer to explore your defense options. Our compassionate and results-driven criminal defense lawyers at Forrester Law Firm have years of experience representing adults and juveniles facing resisting arrest charges. Call 609-613-1513 for a case review.

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