Resisting arrest is a crime that is charged with a person interferes with a law enforcement officer in his attempt to carry out an arrest. Resisting arrest is a serious charge and it is vitally important to speak to an experienced attorney as quickly as possible to develop a strategy for your case.
Elements of the Offense
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-479.1, a person is guilty of resisting arrest when he is “fleeing from a law-enforcement officer when (i) the officer applies physical force to the person, or (ii) the officer communicates to the person that he is under arrest and (a) the officer has the legal authority and the immediate physical ability to place the person under arrest, and (b) a reasonable person who receives such communication knows or should know that he is not free to leave.”
In every instance, a suspect must be fleeing from a law enforcement officer in order to be found guilty of resisting arrest. Thus, in an instance where there is simply a struggle in effecting arrest but the suspect does not actually make an attempt to flee, the government would not meet its burden sufficient to find a person guilty of resisting arrest. In addition, if there is no legal authority for the arrest or the officer does not have probable cause, resisting arrest is not a crime.
Resisting arrest is a class 1 misdemeanor. As such, it is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to 12 months in jail, or both. This is a wide range of punishment, and a court will take into account a number of factors in determining a sentence such as criminal history and the facts of the case. Because the charge is a misdemeanor, it is not a pre-payable offense and if found guilty the conviction can not be expunged. It will remain permanently on a criminal record and can cause problems for background checks both for employment and for security clearance.
The attorneys at Henson Pachuta, PLLC have extensive experience with disorderly conduct charges and can help you determine what defenses you have and what strategy to employ in your case. We offer free consultations by phone at 703-822-4701 or at our office at 4011 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 200, Fairfax, Virginia 22030. You can also contact us through our website and we will get back to you as soon as possible.