I represented a client last week in CJP court in Hudson County who was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute within 1000 feet of a school. When I walked into court I noticed television cameras and newspaper reporters and I realized that Kenny Britt, the former Rutgers football star and current member of the Tennessee Titans, was present in court as a defendant for charges he recently received in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Central Judicial Processing (known as “CJP” court) in Hudson county is used to allow the Hudson County Prosecutor’s office to screen cases and decide which cases they want to keep at the county and send to a grand jury and which cases should be remanded back to municipal court as downgraded offenses.
Kenny Britt, fortunately for Kenny, had his charges downgraded to Hoboken Municipal Court last Thursday. According to the Star Ledger article, on June 8th, Britt entered a car wash on Willow Avenue in Hoboken at the same time as two detectives. The officers noticed the smell of marijuana and traced it back to a rolled up cigar leaf in Britt’s hand. When the officers asked Britt to reveal it, he refused and crushed whatever it was into his fist. Additional officers were called in to contain Britt as he refused to be handcuffed. Britt was charged with third-degree resisting arrest, fourth-degree tampering and fourth-degree obstruction. However, after the downgrade Britt now faces disorderly persons charges of resisting arrest and hindering prosecution.
New Jersey Statute N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2 governs Resisting Arrest and provides that a person is charged with a third-degree offense if the person uses or threatens to use physical force or violence against the law enforcement officer or another; or uses any other means to create a substantial risk of causing physical injury to the public servant or another. A person can be charged with the lesser disorderly persons offense if he purposely prevents or attempts to prevent a law enforcement officer from effecting an arrest. In Britt’s case, the charge was downgraded to a disorderly persons offense.
Britt’s other charge of Hindering Prosecution is governed by N.J.S.A 2C:29-3. This statute provides that a person commits an offense if, with purpose to hinder his own detention, apprehension, investigation, prosecution, conviction or punishment for an offense or violation of Title 30 of the Revised Statutes or violation of chapter 33A of Title 17 of the Revised Statutes, he:
a. Suppresses, by way of concealment or destruction, any evidence of the crime or tampers with a document or other course of information, regardless of its admissibility in evidence, which might aid in his discovery or apprehension or in the lodging of a charge against him; or
b. Prevents or obstructs by means of force or intimidation anyone from performing an act which might aid in discovery or apprehension or in the lodging of a charge against him or;
c. Prevents or obstructs by means of force, intimidation or deception any witness or information from providing testimony or information, regardless of its admissibility, which might aid in his discovery or apprehension or in the lodging of a charge against him.
Before Britt’s June 16th court appearance, he was also facing a fourth degree charge of obstruction which is governed by N.J.S.A 2C:29-1. This section provides that an offense in 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.
In addition, Britt was also facing a fourth-degree charge of tampering which is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:28-6. This section provides that a person commits a crime of the fourth degree if, believing that an official proceeding or investigation is pending or about to be instituted, he:
a. Alters, destroys, conceals or removes any article, object, record, document or other thing of physical substance with purpose to impair its verity or availability in such proceeding or investigation; or
b. Makes, devises, prepares, presents, officers or uses any article, object, record, document or other thing of physical substance knowing it to be false and with purpose to mislead a public servant who is engaged in such proceeding or investigation.
Kenny Britt’s charges will now be litigated in the Hoboken Municipal Court based on the downgrade of these charges by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s office.