Is Resisting Arrest a Felony in NJ?


Any criminal case in New Jersey that entails compromising  authority, security, or directions of law enforcement, is taken seriously. As a result, a person who violates any criminal statute pertaining to a police officer will be charged with either a disorderly persons offense or an indictable crime. In New Jersey criminal law, an indictable crime is a felony. This depends on the particular allegations and crime charged, one of the most common of which is resisting arrest or eluding a police officer.

Meaning of Resisting Arrest at the Jersey Shore

Resisting arrest and eluding police offenses are set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2. Whether you run from an officer on foot, flee on your bicycle to avoid arrest, pull away while being handcuffed, or take the cops on a fantastic high speed chase in a car, you can plan on being arrested and charged with violating this statute. The gravity of the offense and companion punishments rely on the individual acts and the threat of harm to others alleged by the state.

The resisting arrest statute is primarily concerned with allowing law enforcement to do their job without threat of someone preventing them from making an arrest. Toward this end, the law makes it an offense to do anything that prevents the police from “effecting an arrest.”

Specifically, it is an offense violating 2c:19-2 to:

  • Purposely prevent and officer from arresting you;
  • Attempt to prevent an arrest by flight;
  • Prevent or attempt to prevent an arrest by threatening violence or physical harm against anyone, including the officer;
  • Create a risk of injury to anyone; and
  • Flee in a motor vehicle after having received a signal to stop by law enforcement;

Now, the specific conduct constituting the offense is important. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will not take what the officer or prosecutor says as gospel and will instead devote substantial time toward reviewing the allegations and related case law. Often, this charge is conflated and not justified by the facts, or is otherwise charged as an add-on in an attempt to obtain a conviction or gain footing in the case.

What Level of Crime is Resisting Arrest in New Jersey?

If charged with resisting arrest, you may be concerned that the punishment exacted will be severe if you are found guilty.  This concern is valid, as for some offenses under this statute, a lengthy prison term is authorized. The length of the permissible sentence is wholly dependent on the degree of  the crime. For eluding or resisting arrest, the degree of the crime will be based on the acts alleged to have been committed by the accused. It will be labeled as a disorderly persons offense (non-felony), fourth degree crime (lowest level felony), third degree crime (mid-range felony), or second degree crime (second worst felony) in New Jersey. It is critical to understand what you are being charged with, as well as the corresponding potential sentence.

How Long Do You Go to Jail for Resisting Arrest or Eluding in Ocean NJ?

A disorderly persons offense for resisting arrest may happen if an officer tries to arrest you and you pull away, run, hide, etc.  For this type of criminal offense, the case can be heard in municipal court and the judge can sentence you to pay a $1000, jail for a maximum of 6 months, probation up to 5 years, $125 in mandatory penalties, court costs and fees.

Fourth Degree resisting arrest applies to the act of “fleeing” to prevent an arrest. Leading police on a foot chase, taking off on a bike, or “fleeing” in any way is a felony crime that can lead to up to 18 months in state prison, probation of 5 years, and up to $10,000 in fines.

Third degree resisting arrest or eluding charges are more serious and so too are the possible penalties. If you lead the police on a chase using any type of motor vehicle (for instance, a moped, truck, car, or boat), you can be charged with a 3rd degree felony. Also, it is an offense if you create a situation that is dangerous or threatens violence, to stop an arrest.  For example, if the officer can be hurt by your conduct, whatever that may be. Upon conviction, you can be sentenced to prison for up to 5 years, pay $15,000 in fines.

A second degree charge for eluding often occurs in conjunction with a high speed car chase in which others, including the arresting officers, have an increased risk of potential injury. Most cases involve a person who is being pulled over and simply panics and takes off at a high rate of speed, weaving in between cars, cutting people off, and thus creating a risk of injury to others. Since the conduct could have hurt someone, the prison time increases to a maximum of 10 years and the fines to $150,000. You are also labeled a felon if convicted. On top of that, there is a “presumption of imprisonment” and if not dealt with early on in the case, you face prison time regardless of whether or not you have ever been convicted of a crime before.

Can a Lawyer Help Get Resisting Arrest Charges Dropped in Toms River NJ?

There are numerous avenues to pursue to get resisting arrest or eluding charges dropped. For instance, a seasoned lawyer may be able to get you into Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI), which will result in a dismissal and no conviction on your record if you comply with program requirements during the specified period. In other cases, your attorney may get the charge downgraded from a felony to a disorderly persons offense or take you out of the state prison range for a second degree crime, opening up your alternatives. In other cases, there may be critical insufficiencies in the state’s case against you that pave the way for motions and a dismissal.

One thing that is certain, is that you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney who understands the law on resisting arrest and eluding violations, and can employ everything they know to resolve your case in your favor. Whatever you choose to do, you should pay careful attention to the criminal lawyer you hire to help you. At William Proetta Criminal Law, we pride ourselves on having the skill and experience that our clients can count on in their times of need. With over a decade each providing criminal defense in Ocean County and throughout New Jersey, our lawyers know how to handle your case, direct the course of the litigation, and guide you along the way. For further information and a consultation absolutely cost-free, contact our local office in Ocean County at (848) 238-2100 today.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.