Is Racial Profiling a Defense to Criminal Charges in New Jersey?
Posted by Scott Gorman - September 30, 2020

Racial profiling has long been a problem in New Jersey. In an effort to combat racial profiling, the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice has published several resources for law enforcement officers, including an official Racial Profiling Policy and a 134-page Companion Guide that covers topics including, “The Nature and Scope of the Racial Profiling Problem,” and, “Applying the Rule Prohibiting ‘Racially-Influenced Policing.’” Yet, in Essex County and throughout New Jersey, there is no question that racial profiling continues to occur, and it continues to lead to far too many wrongful arrests and convictions every year.

Here, Essex County criminal defense attorney Scott Gorman explains the implications of racial profiling in criminal cases in New Jersey state court.

What Constitutes Racial Profiling in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, it is unlawful for the police to make any law enforcement decisions based upon a person’s race or ethnicity. As New Jersey’s Racial Profiling Policy states:

“The general rule prohibiting any consideration of race or ethnicity applies to all police decisions, and not just the decision . . . to initiate a ‘stop.’ The rule applies, for example, to earlier decisions (e.g., whether to ‘run the places of a vehicle’ . . . ), and also applies to all decisions made after a stop has begun (e.g., whether to order the driver out . . . ).”

The only exceptions to this rule apply when an individual matches the physical description in a “Be On the Lookout” (B.O.L.O.) notice, or when the police are pursuing a specific lead in connection with an ongoing investigation. Otherwise, the police are not permitted to make race-based or ethnicity-based decisions under any circumstances.

If I Was Racially Profiled, What are the Consequences for My New Jersey Criminal Case?

In circumstances involving what the state calls “Racially-Influenced Policing,” it will be possible for the defendant to avoid prosecution in some cases. Stops made without reasonable suspicion and arrests made without probable cause violate the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and constitutional violations are grounds for having evidence suppressed from a defendant’s trial. With regard to the question of whether your case will be dismissed, the answer depends on at what stage you were racially profiled and what lawfully-obtained evidence the prosecutor’s office has in its possession.

How Can I Prove That I was Racially Profiled?

While proving racial profiling can be difficult, it can be done in many cases. If you believe that you were racially profiled, you will need to provide your attorney with as many details as possible so that he or she can conduct an investigation. If the evidence to support reasonable suspicion or probable cause is non-existent if the arresting officer’s bodycam footage shows that you were racially profiled, or if there are any other indications that you were illegally stopped or arrested, your defense attorney can use this to protect you in your New Jersey criminal case.

Request a Free Consultation with Essex County Criminal Defense Attorney Scott Gorman

Do you believe that you are a victim of racial profiling in New Jersey? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free consultation about your case. To speak with Essex County criminal defense attorney Scott Gorman in confidence, call 201-489-9199 or send us your contact information online now.

Published in Categories: Criminal Defense