Raleigh Misdemeanor Attorney – Resisting Arrest

When people think about “resisting arrest,” they might envision an criminal physically assaulting a police officer who’s trying to make a lawful arrest, an offender running from police by foot or car, or a person simply refusing to comply. In North Carolina, as well as many other states, “resisting arrest” includes a much broader definition, whereas the delay or obstruction of a public officer can result in being charged of this crime. Officially, North Carolina calls this crime “Resisting, Delaying, or Obstructing an Officer (RDO),” punished as a Class 2 Misdemeanor under North Carolina Statute § 14-223. Because of its broad definition and the many pitfalls in this misdemeanor crime, it is essential to contact a Raleigh misdemeanor attorney as soon as possible if you’ve been charged with resisting arrest.

The Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley in Raleigh has defended hundreds of North Carolinans who’ve been charged with this crime, and we’ve discovered first-hand how “Resisting, Delaying, or Obstructing an Officer (RDO)” is used to cover an uncompromising array of behavior. As such, if you’ve been charged with resisting arrest, contact our Raleigh law firm immediately.

Understanding the Resisting Arrest Law in North Carolina

Resisting Arrest Attorney Raleigh NC | Dewey Brinkley LawResisting, Delaying, or Obstructing an Officer in North Carolina is defined by NC General Statute § 14-223:

“If any person shall willfully and unlawfully resist, delay or obstruct a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge a duty of his office, he shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.”

As you can see, this definition is quite broad, both in terms of legal interpretation as well as its legislative intent. It is difficult to narrow down which behaviors will constitute a resisting arrest charge. Nonetheless, the law states that if a person 1.) reasonably knew that the person they were resisting was an officer (the officer wore his/her uniform and badge and acted like an officer, or an undercover or plain-clothed officer made it known he/she was an officer) and that 2.) the defendant intentionally resisted or obstructed the officer, the person can be convicted of this misdemeanor. However, when giving orders or making an arrest, the officer must be lawfully discharging his/her official duties.

Potential Punishments

North Carolina residents charged with resisting arrest could be facing a Class 2 Misdemeanor. Because this is a misdemeanor, it means that the convicted will have not only a criminal record (or another section on their criminal record), but they could also receive 1 to 60 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment, including jail time. Prior convictions and extraneous circumstances surrounding the alleged crime also play a role in the sentencing. Likewise, prosecutors, juries, and the judge consider the level of resistance in these cases. However, physical violence when resisting arrest could result in another charge, such as assaulting an officer.

Defenses for Resisting Arrest

Because the definition of resisting arrest is quite broad, an experienced defense lawyer needs to know where to look when proving that the defended is innocent of this charge. Prosecutors will need to prove that:

  • The defendant willfully resisted, obstructed, or delayed.
  • An officer lawfully performed his/her duties.
  • The defendant reasonably should have known that the person whom he/she resisted was an officer.

With these elements in mind, consider the following situation: A person intentionally goes limp, forcing the officer to drag or carry the person in order to make a lawful arrest. Do the three elements apply? In this situation, the prosecution may have a solid case.

As a defense lawyer, Dewey P. Brinkley will diligently investigate every aspect of the crime to determine:

  • If your arrest was wrongful.
  • If you were falsely accused.
  • If you acted in self-defense rather than obstructing.

For example, imagine you’re driving down the highway with your windows up. A police officer two cars back pulls you over and says he/she could smell marijuana. You are very irritated that you’re being pulled over for no reason. You do not have marijuana in the car, but instead a bad attitude. The police officer then pulled you out of the car (you held onto the steering wheel out of fear) and then arrested you for obstruction and resisting. This situation may provide a solid case for the defense as the traffic stop was unlawful, you were falsely accused, and you held onto the steering wheel in self-defense of aggressive conduct.

Contact Dewey P. Brinkley Today

Regardless of the circumstances, you should always contact an experienced defense attorney if charged with resisting arrest. In addition to the fact that a misdemeanor conviction may have major implications (including jail time), it is essential to have a lawyer to show the prosecution and/or jury your version of events, as police reports often provide very little favors in this respect. Through diligent investigation, the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley will carefully examine every aspect of the arrest and use the full extent of North Carolina law to prove your innocence. For Raleigh’s leading defense attorney, contact Dewey P. Brinkley at 919-832-0307 today.