When you know there is a risk of being arrested, it can be tempting to try to flee or get away. That’s particularly true if you know you are innocent or otherwise disagree with the grounds of the arrest.
However, trying to avoid arrest can make your situation a lot worse. Resisting, delaying, or obstructing an officer (RDO) is a crime in North Carolina. The North Carolina General Statute describes RDO as follows:
“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.”
Unfortunately, many people don’t really understand RDO. Partially because of this, it is one of the most common crimes in North Carolina.
So get informed. The more you know, the better you can protect yourself – without breaking the law.
Understanding Resisting Arrest in North Carolina
Here is what you should know.
It is a crime.
We covered this above, but it is worth explaining further because this crime is so misunderstood and common.
Resisting arrest really is a crime. You can go to jail for up to three months if convicted. That is true even if you are not convicted of the crime the officer was attempting to arrest you for.
Let’s say that one more time, because it’s something you really need to understand. If an officer arrests you for, say, stealing something that you didn’t steal, you might be tempted to resist. After all, you didn’t do it.
This is a horrible idea, though, because even if it is proven that you didn’t steal and you beat that charge, if you resist arrest that is a separate charge that won’t just go away. You can commit a crime trying to argue that you didn’t commit a crime.
That’s how crazy resisting arrest is.
There are many ways to resist.
Many people assume that this crime only covers things like running away or pushing an officer to get away, but you can also be charged with non-physical resist. Again, according to the North Caroline General Statute:
“Any person who shall willfully make or cause to be made to a law enforcement agency or officer any false, deliberately misleading or unfounded report, shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.”
Non-physical resist includes things like questioning an officer, giving false information, refusing to accept a parking ticket, and using verbal abuse.
There are many ways to mount a defense against this crime.
Because resisting arrest has a very vague and broad definition, this kind of crime requires an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Here are a few ways you can fight the charge:
False accusation – Your lawyer can try to prove to the court that the charges are false.
Self Defense – Your lawyer can try to prove that resisting was a kind of self-defense. How does this work?
Police can use the force necessary for the circumstances that arise to accomplish an arrest. However, an officer cannot use force or act violently, so you can argue that you resisted in order to protect yourself.
Unlawful Arrest – If the arrest is not authorized by law, such as arresting without permit or cause, it is called an unauthorized arrest. In some cases, the convicted individual can resist this kind of arrest. However, you will then have to prove the unauthorized arrest in court, and even then, there are only certain circumstances where resisting is not a crime.
There are serious penalties for resisting arrest.
If you are charged with resisting arrest, you could be facing Class 2 misdemeanor. Associated consequences include:
Fines – Fines vary depending on the circumstances, but they typically start at $1,000.
Jail Time – You could receive 1 to 60 days of confinement in county jail.
Probation – If convicted, you may have to meet a probation officer regularly and attend counseling sessions.
Community Service – Court sometimes give defendants work as a volunteer in a different kind of charity as a part of their probation.
Know the Law
So, what should you do if you are arrested? Be polite with the police officer. Cooperate.
That does not mean you have to answer any and all questions. You are legally required to provide your name and identification. In the case of car accident, you also must provide insurance information and car registration. However, you can politely decline to answer additional questions – even if they push you.
Instead, say that you would like to talk to your North Carolina criminal defense lawyer. An experienced attorney can help guide you through the process that follows, ensuring that your rights are protected and that you do not unintentionally provide the prosecution with more evidence in their favor.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense. He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.