When a law enforcement officer attempts to take you into custody, and you resist, you could face a resisting arrest charge. Although resisting arrest is a misdemeanor, it is a serious charge that can lead to steep fines or jail time.
Knowing your rights regarding a resisting arrest charge is essential. A resisting arrest charge is very complex and, based on the situation, could be unlawful. This article will discuss what you need to know about resisting arrest laws in Maryland.
Defining Resisting Arrest
A resisting arrest charge can be caused by something as minor as arguing with the officer, refusing to allow the officer to place you in handcuffs, or being combative when they are trying to place you in the back of the police vehicle.
Maryland Code, Criminal Law §9-408 addresses resisting arrest. It states that a person cannot:
- Intentionally resist a lawful arrest
- Interfere with an individual who the person has reason to know is a police officer who is making or attempting to lawfully arrest or detain another person
To prove a resisting arrest charge in Maryland, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The officer arrested or tried to arrest you
- That it was a lawful arrest
- That you used some level of force while refusing to comply with the arrest
Certain actions are not considered resisting arrest but could escalate a situation that is already tense. The best thing to do is to comply with the instructions the officer gives you during your arrest.
Actions that are not considered resisting arrest can include:
- Slowly responding to the officer
- Questioning the officer as to why you’re being arrested
- Swearing or cursing at the officer
Resisting Arrest Legal Defenses
The most important part of the statute are the words “lawful arrest.” Your defense attorney will likely challenge your resisting arrest charge by establishing that proper procedure was not followed during your arrest or that your arrest was unlawful. Some of the defense may include:
- Unlawful arrest — If your attorney believes that your initial arrest was unlawful, they will attempt to get both the initial charge as well as the resisting arrest charge that resulted from the unlawful arrest dropped.
- Self-defense — Even when being arrested, you have the right to protect yourself from excessive force. If your rights have been violated by the arresting officer, and your only choice is to protect yourself through the use of physical force, your attorney may be able to prove that your arrest was unlawful. However, keep in mind that if you are resisting arrest and the officers used force in response to your actions, self-defense would likely be unsuccesful.
- Failure to identify — You can’t intentionally resist a law enforcement officer if they do not identify themselves as a police officer. Even undercover officers must identify themselves when making an arrest.
Penalties for a Resisting Arrest Conviction
Crimes against law enforcement officers are taken very seriously, making the penalties for resisting arrest severe. A resisting arrest conviction is a misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to three years in jail.
Common Offenses Associated with Resisting Arrest
Although any offense could result in an additional charge of resisting arrest, some common offenses tend to result in a resisting arrest charge. Some of these offenses include:
Resisting Arrest if You’re Not Committing a Crime
An example of a time you could be charged with resisting arrest without committing a crime is if you are attending a rally or a protest. Remember, resisting arrest is a crime on its own.
To ensure your safety, legally and physically, stay calm and do as the officer asks. Just because you comply with the arrest doesn’t mean you can’t fight the arrest in court later.
Let Jeremy Widder Law Help Fight Your Resisting Arrest Charge
A resisting arrest charge can be complicated and is basically your word against the officer’s. And if you don’t understand court processes or charges you’re facing, defending yourself can be even more complicated. Ensure that your rights are protected by enlisting the assistance of an experienced defense attorney.
The team at Jeremy Widder Law will be by your side, providing top-notch legal services throughout the entire process. We know how overwhelming legal troubles can be, so we aim to ease your concerns and ensure your rights and future are protected.
Get the personalized attention you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation.