With rare exception, no one plans on resisting arrest. More often than not, the accused is in panic mode. After all, there’s a high probability that the police will catch up with you. Instead of facing one charge, you’ve added another. Life just got more complicated.
It may be something you’re already familiar with and are concerned can result in dire consequences. For example, you’ve had a few drinks, but you don’t feel drunk. You get behind the wheel of your car and swerve a little. Suddenly, lights and sirens are behind you as the police pull you over.
Admittedly, your first inclination is just to take off. However, you decide a police chase is not in your best interests. The police officers ask you to get out of the car to undergo field sobriety tests. You blow into the breathalyzer machine. Ultimately, the officers determine that you are driving while intoxicated (DWI) and arrest you.
In your head, you’re revisiting the idea of taking off. You absolutely don’t see the point in cooperating, as you are sure there is a mistake. As a result, you start to argue with the arresting officers and fight back while they try to handcuff you and put you in the police car. Perhaps you even threaten violence against them.
Unfortunately, your bad choices come with the potential for bad consequences. Truth be told, a DWI charge is not a criminal offense in New Jersey. However, resisting arrest is an indictable crime.
You might have felt justified at the time—believing it was a false arrest or that the police used excessive force. Nevertheless, you failed to comply with the police officers and resisted. You should look to the advice of experienced defense counsel to learn what lies ahead.
Resisting arrest can have criminal penalties in New Jersey
All things considered, resisting arrest usually involves a physical struggle. However, it can even escalate into assaulting an officer. Notwithstanding, even threatening to harm a police officer can mean big trouble.
Resisting arrest can rise to the level of an indictable crime in the New Jersey. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2, a person cannot prevent a law enforcement officer from making an arrest. Meanwhile, different factors determine whether you will be charged as a disorderly person or face actual criminal charges that equate to a felony.
What are the penalties for resisting arrest? If you prevent or attempt to stop your arrest, you are subject to a disorderly persons conviction. The judge can order a fine of up to $1,000. Money may seem inconsequential when you discover you could be sentenced to up to six months in jail.
If you prevent or attempt to prevent, an officer from making an arrest by eluding or flight, you are guilty of a fourth-degree crime. If you use or threaten physical force or violence against a law enforcement officer, that is a third-degree crime. Either of these level crimes comes with severe penalties.
The two most common defenses against these charges are that an officer did not have probable cause to arrest you or was using excessive force. If either of these were the case, then the police officer was not in the lawful performance of his/her duties. However, you need an experienced attorney to present this defense to the court.
Things happen. Although it’s never a good idea to resist an arrest, it might have seemed right at the moment. If you are accused of resisting arrest, please call Beninato & Matrafajlo Attorneys at Law to set up a free consultation. We can help you with the best legal options for defending against the resisting arrest charges.