New Jersey Resisting Arrest Laws

Most arrests end without incident; however, we often hear about police and civilian interactions that go astray. Police officers are required to follow specific procedures when they're conducting an arrest. If the officer doesn't follow the protocol, then it might be a case of police misconduct and the officer could be disciplined. On the other side of the equation, if a civilian struggles with an officer during the arrest or tries to get out of handcuffs, then they could face resisting arrest charges. The consequences of these types of interactions between police and citizens can be life altering or even fatal. This is why it's crucial to understand the rights and responsibilities of civilians when dealing with law enforcement. State laws outline specific prohibited behavior which constitutes resisting arrest.

The least serious resisting arrest violation in New Jersey is classified as a disorderly persons offense, which is the New Jersey equivalent of a misdemeanor in other states. However, if you leave the scene or try to flee, then your charges will be elevated to a crime in the fourth degree (equivalent to a felony in other states). If your conduct involves a motor vehicle and the officer tells you to stop and you don't, then you may be charged with a crime in the third degree. Finally, if your flight creates a risk of bodily injury to any person, then the offense is charged as a second degree crime.

New Jersey Resisting Arrest Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of statutes related to New Jersey's resisting arrest laws, including links to important code sections.

Statute

  • New Jersey Statutes 2C: 29-2 (resisting arrest, eluding officer)

Penalties

Penalties can include incarceration and/or fines, restitution, and probation, but the specific penalties depend on the facts of the case and other factors such as the defendant's criminal history.

Resisting arrest (no flight)

  • Disorderly persons offense: Prevents or attempts to prevent a law enforcement officer from effecting an arrest is punishable by 6 months incarceration.

Resisting arrest with flight

  • Fourth degree crime: By flight, purposefully prevents or attempts to prevent a law enforcement officer from effecting an arrest is punishable by up to 18 months incarceration.

Eluding an officer

  • Third degree crime:
    • Use of physical force or violence (or threats) against the law enforcement officer or another; or
    • Any other means to create a substantial risk of causing physical injury to the public servant or another.
    • An individual who knowingly flees or attempts to elude a police or law enforcement officer when the officer signals to bring the vehicle to a full stop.
    • Punishable by up to 5 years incarceration.
  • Second degree crime: If the flight or attempt to elude creates a risk of death or injury to any person, the offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Additionally, suspension of driver's license or privilege to operate a vessel for a period of 6 months up to 2 years.

Possible Defenses

  • Self defense
  • Officer used excessive force.
  • An unlawful arrest is not a valid defense as long as the officer didn't use excessive force.

Related Offenses

  • Assault: New Jersey Statutes 2C: 12-1
  • Infliction of harm to law enforcement animal: New Jersey Statutes 2C: 29:3.1
  • Hindering apprehension or prosecution: New Jersey Statutes 2C: 29-3

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

New Jersey Resisting Arrest Laws: Related Resources

Charged With Resisting Arrest? Get Help from a New Jersey Attorney

When you're charged with resisting arrest in New Jersey, you're likely facing additional charges from the arrest. An experienced attorney can explore the possibility of getting your resisting charges downgraded or dismissed. Contact a criminal defense attorney in your area right away to learn more.

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