You’re being arrested, and you’re not sure why. Maybe you’re innocent and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever it’s for, you may be tempted to flee the scene or otherwise put up a fight, especially if you believe it’s a wrongful arrest. But should you?
Why Resisting Arrest Is A Crime
North Carolina General Statutes Section 14-223 states that “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.” Additional information is available here.
Resisting arrest is doing something that interferes with a police officer doing his or her job. You can go to jail for as long as three months, even if you are innocent of the original charge. For instance, if you’re wrongly arrested for shoplifting and fight or resist the police officer, you can also be charged with resisting arrest. You may be acquitted of shoplifting, but can still be convicted of resisting arrest, and make a bad situation worse. In other words, until you resisted, you were innocent.
You may also be charged if you refuse to cooperate with an officer, give false information or refuse to accept a traffic ticket. Anytime you obstruct, resist or delay an officer or prevent him from doing his or her job, you can be arrested. While these are not the same as physical resistance, they carry the same weight.
Conviction of resisting arrest is a Class 2 Misdemeanor. This can mean:
- Fines up of up to $1,000
- Jail time of up to 60 days in county jail
- Probation that can include required “counseling” and other regular meetings
- A requirement for community service
“Resisting arrest” can be interpreted a number of ways, but there are defenses that can be raised.
- Self-defense against excessive force—the police are allowed to use necessary force in the course of an arrest. However, they are not allowed to be violent or use excessive force during arrests. If you were the victim of excessive force, you can argue that you were in the act of defending yourself.
- Unlawful arrest—if a police officer arrests you without a warrant, do not have probable cause or otherwise exceeds authority, you have been “unlawfully” arrested.
- False accusations—in court, you and your attorney must prove that the accusations are actually false.
Consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before going to prepare your best defense.
Avoid Being Charged With Resisting Arrest
The first thing to remember is to be polite and cooperate with the police officer. No swearing, fighting or otherwise interfering with the officer, including resisting, delaying, or obstructing him or her.
You are required to give your name to the officer as well as your state identification. (If you’re involved in a car accident, you’ll also be asked for insurance and registration, which is also required.) Beyond that, you do not have to answer any questions, no matter how forcefully they are asked. Decline to answer, in the most civilized and polite fashion, and request to speak to a criminal defense attorney. (You may be given a public defender first.) Avoid answering any more questions or providing any information that, as they say on TV, can, and will, be used against you in court. You could unwittingly give a prosecutor enough information to convict.
Fight Charges of Resisting Arrest
Dewey P. Brinkley is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Raleigh. Before defending those accused of crimes, he was a Wake County Assistant District Attorney. He understands the criminal justice system and can defend you against even the most serious felony charges. If you’re charged with resisting arrest, you must take it seriously.
Call the Law Offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use our online contact form.