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In the moment that you’re being arrested, you can feel confused, overwhelmed, scared, angry and nervous. Emotions can run high, and there can be distress and disagreement with the charges, even the incident in its entirety. In cases where alcohol, drugs and/or age is involved, emotions and reactions can run even higher. It’s during these instances that we see individuals resisting arrest, making the situation worse. 

If you’ve been accused of resisting arrest, you may be confused about your rights and concerned about the repercussions of a resisting arrest charge. An arrest is a frightening experience, and you may feel intimidated by officers, incarceration, and upcoming prosecution. A criminal defense attorney will work with you to minimize the impact of your situation, acting with your best interests in mind.

At Cummings & Kennedy Law, we have a team of criminal defense attorneys that takes the time to learn the circumstances and in depth facts of your case. By doing so our attorneys are able to approach your case with all of the knowledge and support needed to overturn any charges that may come your way. If you are currently dealing with a resist of arrest case, then you need a criminal defense attorney that can back you up. Trust the attorneys at Cummings & Kennedy to have your back. For aggressive protection against charges of resisting arrest, please do not hesitate to contact Cummings & Kennedy today! You can also learn more about resisting arrest charges by reading answers to our most frequently asked questions, which are listed below. If you have any further questions, or if you’d like to obtain a free initial consultation, simply give us a call.


Is resisting arrest a criminal offense?

Yes. In the state of North Carolina, resisting arrest is a criminal offense, and it will be considered a criminal charge in court.

 

What, exactly, qualifies as resisting arrest under North Carolina law?

 

Resisting arrest includes any infractions where an individual resists an arrest attempt from an officer. North Carolina statute § 14-223 outlines the precise definition of resisting arrest:

“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.”

An officer may issue an arrest with or without the use of a warrant, and they may arrest an individual, legally, for a variety of reasons, including probable cause.

North Carolina statute § 15A-401 outlines reasons why an officer may be able to make a legal arrest, including definitions surrounding when an officer does or does not witness an alleged crime:

“(1) Offense in Presence of Officer. - An officer may arrest without a warrant any person who the officer has probable cause to believe has committed a criminal offense, or has violated a pretrial release order entered under G.S. 15A-534 or G.S. 15A-534.1(a)(2), in the officer's presence.

(2) Offense Out of Presence of Officer. - An officer may arrest without a warrant any person who the officer has probable cause to believe:

a. Has committed a felony; or

b. Has committed a misdemeanor, and:

1. Will not be apprehended unless immediately arrested, or

2. May cause physical injury to himself or others, or damage to property unless immediately arrested [etc.]”

 

Take note, there is additional verbiage surrounding legal arrests — you should speak with a criminal defense attorney if you believe that you have been arrested illegally.

Can I be arrested without the presence of a warrant?


Yes. In the state of North Carolina, it is legal to arrest an individual without a warrant rendered for their arrest. For instance, if an officer witnesses a crime, he or she may make an arrest without a warrant. In addition, an officer may legally make an arrest if they are responding to a claim of a criminal infraction (for example, if a 911 caller identifies an individual that has performed a burglary, an officer may arrest any suspect fitting the description of the caller).

In addition, an officer may make a warranted arrest, even if they are not in possession of a warrant at the time of the arrest. In these instances, the officer must already know that a warrant has been issued, and the warrant will be required to be served to the individual being arrested, once it is available. The officer must also inform the alleged suspect if a warrant has been issued (even though they do not have the document at the time).

What penalties may I face if charged with resisting arrest?

Individuals who are charged with resisting arrest will likely face a Class II misdemeanor, and they may face fines, jail time, probation, and community service penalties. Resisting arrest may result in fines of $1,000 or more. In addition, an individual may face up to 60 days in jail. Also, that individual may be required to report to a probation officer during a probation period. Finally, that individual may have to fulfill a set number of hours of community service.

What are my rights if I am arrested?

If you are arrested, you only have to submit certain information, legally speaking. You are required to tell an officer your name and present a form of identification if the officer requests this information during an arrest. In addition, you may have to provide insurance and vehicle registration information if you are driving and accused of a traffic infraction.

Beyond those forms of information, you are not legally required to provide any other information. You have the right to remain silent! If you are confused about your arrest, or if you don’t want to answer any questions that an officer is asking you, you do not have to talk. Instead, you can remain silent, and ask to speak to an attorney.

Oftentimes, officers will ask questions which may implicate an individual. Any conversations between an individual and officers can be used in a criminal trial and they may become evidence if prosecuted for a crime. Remember your rights. Speak with an attorney before speaking to police officers. If you have been arrested for a crime here in Carteret County, North Carolina, you can reach out to a criminal defense lawyer here at Cummings & Kennedy for legal advice and a consultation.

Is it possible to be unlawfully arrested?

Yes. In some cases, a police officer may not be allowed to make an arrest legally. An officer must have a permit (or warrant), or probable cause to issue an arrest.

What is “probable cause”?

North Carolina law is fairly grey on the definition of probable cause. In general, probable cause includes an officer’s reasonable belief that an individual has committed a crime. Again, the officer does not have to directly witness a crime to make an arrest with probable cause, nor do they have to have a warrant at the time of an arrest.


North Carolina has historically seen several probable cause cases, where a defendant claimed that an officer did not have probable cause at the time of an arrest — which would make the arrest unlawful. In these cases, multiple, varying definitions of “probable cause” have come to light. Local judges have issued the following statements, loosely defining “probable cause” (among other statements and definitions):

“Probable cause is a flexible, common-sense standard. It does not demand any showing that such a belief be correct or more likely true than false. A practical, nontechnical probability is all that is required.” - State v. Howard

“Probable cause for an arrest has been defined to be a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious man in believing the accused to be guilty.” - State v. Kizer

“Probable cause exists where the facts and circumstances within their [officers’] knowledge and of which they had reasonable trustworthy information [are] sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that an offense has been or is being committed.” - State v. Rodriguez

If you believe that you have been wrongfully arrested because an officer had neither probable cause nor a warrant to issue an arrest, you may benefit from seeking counsel and representation from a criminal defense attorney. You can reach out to a criminal defense lawyer here at Cummings & Kennedy for legal advice and a consultation.

Can I claim that I was acting in self-defense if I am accused of resisting arrest?

Yes. In some instances, an individual may justly claim that they were defending themselves when facing a resisting arrest charge. For instance, if an officer uses unnecessary force during an arrest, an individual may defend themselves — which may turn into an alleged resisting arrest case. It may be best to work with a criminal defense attorney if you believe that you have acted out of self-defense when allegedly resisting arrest.

Can an officer use force to perform an arrest?

Yes. Within reason, an officer may use force (including, when appropriate, deadly force) in attempts to make an arrest. If an individual is resisting arrest, or if they are acting violently, or if they are displaying weapons or threatening an officer, for instance, then the officer may legally use force to attempt an arrest.

Can I represent myself in court?

While it is your right to defend yourself if you are facing a resisting arrest charge, it may be in your best interest to seek help and representation from a criminal defense attorney. An experienced criminal defense firm can aid you in a variety of ways. An attorney can help you to build a case, if your charge does make it to court. In addition, they may help you to keep track of court dates, and to file the documents necessary for a case. A criminal defense attorney will work with your best interests in mind, and they may be able to aid you in reducing the charges held against you, reducing the sentence (should you be charged), or they may be able to have your charges dropped altogether, depending on the circumstances of the case. You can learn more about how a criminal defense attorney can help by contacting our firm — we provide consultations and legal representation for those who have been accused of resisting arrest here in Carteret County, North Carolina.