Resisting Arrest in North Carolina

resisting arrest

When people think of “resisting arrest” they often think of a police officer trying to make a lawful arrest and a suspect running from the police, leading police on a high-speed chase, or fighting the police and physically refusing to comply. But in North Carolina, the crime of resisting arrest is much broader than that and can encompass almost any actions you take to oppose an officer’s instructions.

Because the crime of resisting arrest is so broad and can be applied to so many situations, it is critical that you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to combat charges of resisting arrest and any other criminal charges you may be facing.

What Is Resisting Arrest in North Carolina?

The statute that makes it a crime to resist arrest in North Carolina is very broad and quite vague. Under N.C.G.S. Art. 30, §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.

In this case, “resisting” can include physical and non-physical actions, such as:

  • Failing to comply with an officer’s request
  • Refusing to accept a traffic ticket
  • Providing false information
  • Moving out of the way
  • Raising your hands to defend yourself
  • Acting in an abusive manner
  • Fighting
  • Fleeing the scene
  • Taking any action that slows a police officer down or makes it more difficult for him to do his job

In cases of resisting arrest, N.C.G.S. Art. 30 §15A-401 also applies. The statute identifies the circumstances under which a police officer can lawfully place someone under arrest and specifies how an arrest should be made, when force can be used, and requires that the police officer identify himself as a law enforcement officer.

Critically, for an arrest to be lawful, the police officer must identify himself as a law-enforcement officer (unless his identity is already apparent), inform the suspect that he is being placed under arrest, and inform the person of the reason for the arrest.

Penalties for Resisting Arrest

If you are charged with resisting arrest, you face a Class 2 misdemeanor. The penalties for a Class 2 misdemeanor vary and the court will consider any grossly aggravating, aggravating, and mitigating factors. Your sentence could be up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, probation, mandatory counseling, and community service.

In addition to the charge of resisting arrest, you may also face penalties for the charges that led to the arrest in the first place.

Defenses to Resisting Arrest

Because the definition of resisting arrest is so broad, it is important that your criminal defense lawyer understands the specific circumstances of your arrest and what led to the charge.

To prove that you resisted arrest, the prosecutor must demonstrate that:

  • The officer was lawfully performing his duties
  • The defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the person he was resisting was a police officer
  • The defendant willfully resisted, delayed, or obstructed the officer

To challenge the charge of resisting arrest, criminal defense attorney Ryan Stowe will evaluate whether:

  • The arrest was lawful
  • The defendant knew or should have known that the person he was resisting was a police officer
  • The defendant was acting in self-defense

The Stowe Law Firm: Serious Representation for Serious Crimes

If you have been charged with resisting arrest in North Carolina, the Stowe Law Firm, PLLC can help.

Led by criminal defense attorney Ryan Stowe, our team will investigate the charges against you, formulate a plan to defend you, and vigorously represent you in court.

From our offices in Salisbury, North Carolina, the Stowe Law Firm represents people in Rowan County, Mecklenburg County, Davidson County, Cabarrus County, and Stanly County.

Learn more about the cases we handle, read reviews from other people we have helped, and contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation.