Resisting arrest occurs when a person interferes with a law enforcement officer’s attempt to perform a lawful arrest. Some states call the crime “obstruction”. The crime can be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the severity of the actions of the person being arrested.
Misdemeanor resisting arrest (or misdemeanor obstruction) can include actions such as running and hiding from a law enforcement officer. Felony resisting arrest usually requires that a person either act violently toward the arresting officer or threaten to act violently.
In order to secure a conviction for resisting arrest, the prosecutor must produce evidence on the following issues, called the “elements” of the offense, and the judge or jury must decide that the prosecutor has proved each one of them beyond a reasonable doubt. While the elements of the crime may vary from state to state, usually all of the following must be true:
- The defendant intentionally resisted or obstructed a law enforcement officer. This means the defendant intentionally acted in a way to hinder the arrest. However, the person need not have intended the result or harm that his actions caused.
- The defendant acted violently toward the law enforcement officer or threatened to act violently. For example, striking or pushing the officer would satisfy this requirement. Similarly, a defendant’s threat to strike an officer with an object in the defendant’s hand would also satisfy this requirement.
- The law enforcement officer was lawfully discharging his official duties. This means the law enforcement officer was properly engaged in the performance of official duties, such as investigating a crime or making a traffic stop. A law enforcement officer can be acting lawfully even when arresting the wrong person and even if the charges are dropped or the defendant secures an acquittal at trial.
Someone convicted of felony resisting arrest can be subjected to any or all of the following penalties:
- Sentences may involve time in the county jail, or one or more years in state prison, depending on the state. The judge may require that the entire sentence be served in jail.
- Courts impose fines to penalize defendants. These fines also help defray the cost of maintaining the criminal justice system. Fines vary depending on the circumstances, but usually start at $1,000.
- A person on probation regularly meets with a probation officer and fulfills other terms and conditions, such as maintaining employment and attending counseling.
- Community service. Courts often include as a part of probation the requirement that the defendant volunteer for a specified number of hours with court-approved organizations, such as charities.
For more information please contact our office now to set up an appointment with attorney Daniel Lenghea to determine the best cause of action.