The moment when you encounter law enforcement or a police officer places you under arrest can trigger many emotions. You may feel frightened about what is going to happen to you or angry that police have wrongly arrested you. Many who have experienced this situation may not be thinking clearly and may react in a way that places them at risk.
You may have your reasons for wanting to get away from the officers who are trying to arrest you, but this is not the moment to fight. That will come later in the courtroom. In fact, resisting arrest can quickly escalate the situation and complicate your circumstances.
What actions show resistance?
Remaining calm and complying with a police officer who is placing you under arrest may be the last thing you want to do. However, once police have identified themselves and indicated that you are under arrest, you must be in control of your actions. Officers may interpret any of the following as resisting arrest:
- Struggling to avoid the handcuffs
- Refusing to walk to the police car so that officers must drag or carry you
- Attempting to strike the officers
- Trying to run away from the arresting officers
- Hiding from police who are attempting to make an arrest or giving them a fake name to avoid arrest
- Hiding others whom officers are seeking to arrest
Any of these or other similar actions may result in additional charges for you. Resisting arrest, which is a misdemeanor in Virginia, carries penalties for conviction that may include up to a year in jail, fines reaching thousands of dollars, and a lengthy period of probation. Additionally, a struggle may result in more serious charges, such as assault on an officer.
Your defense strategy
If you are facing charges of resisting arrest, you will certainly want to defend yourself in court. The prosecution will have the burden to prove that you knew the person arresting you was a police officer performing his or her lawful duties but that you resisted anyway. It is possible that you believe officers used excessive force or that the arrest was unlawful. It may also be that officers wrongly interpreted your behavior as resisting at the time of your arrest.
You may be facing the challenge of disputing the word of a police officer or the evidence of body cam video in court. Fighting this battle with the assistance of a skilled attorney is a wise move.