Most people think that resisting arrest means physically trying to prevent the officer from arresting you, but in North Carolina the definition is broader. In this post, we’ll break the law down for you and explain what technically qualifies as resisting arrest in North Carolina.
North Carolina’s Law on Resisting Arrest
In our state, you can be charged with resisting, delaying, or obstructing an officer (RDO). Specifically, the North Carolina General Statute defines RDO in this way:
“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.”
One of the most common crimes in North Carolina is RDO. Why? Because most people don’t understand what it entails due to the fact that the law itself is incredibly broad and vague, covering a wide array of criminal behavior.
This is by design. The intent of this law is to prevent a citizen from hindering a police officer’s investigation or duty. The RDO law grants broad power to law enforcement agencies, making it easier for them to not only make arrests, but also enforce laws and investigate crime with fewer roadblocks. “Resisting arrest” in our state basically means “making it harder for the police to do their job.”
As you might imagine, there are a lot of different things someone can potentially do that could arguably fit into this definition.
Resisting Arrest Comes in Different Forms
Physical resistance. This is the type of “resistance” most people tend to think of in regards to this law. You can actively resist arrest by fleeing from the scene or fighting with the arresting officer. Keep in mind that “physical resistance” is also a broad definition that can sometimes be interpreted to include things like raising your arms defensively or instinctively ducking out of the way, even if you never intended to run or cause harm.
Non-physical resistance. You can also be charged for resisting arrest if you use non-physical actions. These types of actions include doing things like providing false information, using abusive language, refusing to accept traffic tickets, and even questioning the arresting officer in a way that slows them down or prevents them from doing their job.
Keep in mind that the arrest you’re “resisting” doesn’t have to be your own. Remember, RDO is about resisting, delaying, or obstructing an officer. If you do willfully do something that makes it harder for them to catch or arrest someone else, you can end up with a charge.
A Skilled Lawyer Can Provide a Solid Defense Against RDO Charges
A conviction for RDO is a Class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina. Consequences include the following:
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Jail time between one and 60 days in the county jail
- Probation sentencing that includes regular meetings and counseling sessions
- Community service requirement
A class 2 misdemeanor stays on your permanent criminal record. It can affect your ability to apply for jobs and certain licenses and may make it more difficult for you to secure a loan.
In other words, the charge is not something that you should take lying down. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to mount the strongest possible defense, and there are many ways a knowledgeable RDO attorney can help.
As you might imagine, RDO charges can involve quite complex issues. Your freedom of speech and freedom to associate may be threatened during your arrest, as well as other freedoms you are entitled to under both state and federal constitutions. A skilled North Carolina criminal attorney will be able to determine whether the circumstances of your arrest violated your basic rights.
Additionally, several defenses may work in a RDO case, which can get your charges reduced or dismissed. Your attorney can try to prove that the charges against you are false. You can also use the defense that you acted in self-defense, because the arresting officer used unlawful or violent force against you. Unlawful arrest is another potential defense that can apply in cases where someone is arrested without probable cause or without a warrant.
If you work with us, we will help you fight your charges aggressively. Get in touch today for your free initial consultation.