Smile! Is frowning at a cop really illegal in NJ?
🙁 In NJ it is still illegal to frown at a police officer
🖐 You can, however, show your middle finger
🚨 Keep reading to see what you absolutely cannot do that could land you in jail
New Jersey is home to a lot of quirky laws and regulations, many dating back decades and even centuries ago.
One of the most bizarre statutes will on the books regards how a person interacts with law enforcement.
Civility was behind a law that essentially makes it illegal to frown at a police officer.
Under New Jersey law it is technically illegal to frown at a police officer.
Specifically: A person may not "make any grimace or contortion of the face or any gesture of contempt, contumely, or derision at or towards any police officer."
The violation is considered a disorderly persons offense, which could get you a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. A judge could also decide to suspend your drivers license for a disorderly persons offense, even if the offense is not driving related.
However, we couldn't find a single instance in recent history of a police officer writing a ticket for frowning.
But you can do this to a cop in NJ
Despite it still being illegal to frown at a police officer, you can still give a cop the Jersey salute.
Showing a police officer your middle finger is actually protected under the First Amendment to the U.S Constitution which covers free speech.
Under that protection, you can also drop an F-bomb at a cop, and there is technically nothing he can do about it, I guess as long as you are smiling.
There have been multiple cases in state and federal courts that have ruled the use of your middle finger is protected speech. The courts have also generally ruled that using expletives is also permitted under the First Amendment.
But you absolutely cannot do this to a cop in NJ
However, there is a very thin line between flipping a police officer the bird and telling him to "F*** off, and making a real or perceived threat.
That is where things could get ugly for you, very fast.
If your middle finger is accompanied by anything that makes the officer believe you are making a threat and/or intent to try to harm the officer, you will be placed under arrest.
If a verbal threat actually includes any physical altercation, you could be charged with anything from resisting arrest to assault of a police officer. Those charges could earn you multiple years in jail.
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