Resisting Arrest in Maryland: What You Need to KnowThe most important thing you need to remember if you are arrested – whether you committed a crime or not – is that if you resist through force, you can be charged with another crime. However, it is paramount you understand your rights, as resisting arrest charges are complex and, depending on the circumstances, may be unlawful. Today’s blog discusses the details around resisting arrest, what it entails, and the potential defenses should you be facing these charges.

What is resisting arrest?

Under Maryland Criminal Code, a person may not “intentionally resist a lawful arrest; or interfere with an individual who the person has reason to know is a police officer who is making or attempting to make a lawful arrest or detention of another person.”

“Resisting” can be even the smallest amount of physical force or struggle used to prevent the police from handcuffing you or taking you to the station and/or jail. However, the words “lawful arrest” is often the sticking point here, and where your criminal defense attorney will likely begin when advocating in your defense.

Resisting arrest does NOT include:

  • Responding slowly to an officer
  • Questioning why you are being arrested
  • Cursing or swearing at an officer

Keep in mind, however, these types of actions could escalate an already tense or hostile situation and it is always wise to act as the arresting officer instructs you to.

The issue of resisting arrest is under renewed scrutiny, especially in Maryland, since the 2015 death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. Although officers told investigators Gray resisted arrest, questions remain about the legality of his arrest in the first place. However, officials declined to prosecute the Baltimore officers involved.

Can I resist arrest if I’m not committing a crime?

No, and we do not advise that you do. Even if you are attending a protest or rally, you still run the risk of arrest and should not physically resist if law enforcement does attempt to do so. Remember, resisting arrest is a separate crime in itself and may only add to your troubles. Your best option, both for your physical and legal safety, is remaining calm and following the officer’s instructions. Your attorney can fight the charges on your behalf afterward.

Remember, not resisting arrest does not mean you cannot argue the arrest later in court. The legal team at Carey Law can help.

What crimes are commonly associated with resisting arrest?

Certain offenses tend to be associated more with resisting arrest, although this charge can be associated with just about any charge. These include:

What are the penalties for resisting arrest in Maryland?

Penalties for conviction of resisting arrest are serious, as it is a crime against law enforcement and taken extremely seriously. State statute calls for “a person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both.”

Further, you may face related crimes as well. These can include fleeing or escaping custody, which can lead to misdemeanor charges. However, if a weapon is involved, this will bump it up to a felony charge.

Are there legal defenses to resisting arrest?

Your attorney can challenge a charge of resisting arrest by demonstrating it was unlawful or that the arresting officer failed to follow proper procedure. These defenses can include:

  • Unlawful arrest. If your arrest was unlawful to begin with, your lawyer will start by working to have those charges dropped, along with the resisting arrest charges. When you are hit with false charges, an officer had no right to arrest you in the first place.
  • Self-defense. You have the right to protect yourself against the use of excessive force, even while being arrested. If police violate your rights and you have no choice but to use physical force to protect yourself, an attorney may prove your arrest an unlawful one. Do note that if officers must use force in response to your resistance, self-defense is unlikely to be successful.
  • Failure to identify. If the arresting officer does not identify themselves as law enforcement, you cannot “intentionally” resist them. Police, even undercover, must at least verbally identify themselves during arrest.

Our legal team tailors their strategy to your individual circumstances to build a strong defense on your behalf. We understand that being charged with resisting arrest is a complicated situation and, in many cases, can come down to your word against the arresting officer’s. With so much at stake, ensure you protect your rights and your freedom with the help of a skilled and experienced attorney.

The Bowie criminal defense team at Carey Law Office can help when you are facing resisting arrest or other charges. We assist with every aspect of your case and protect your rights throughout, working to have charges against you reduced or dropped. Call to schedule an appointment with our attorney today at 301-464-2500, or complete our contact form. We serve clients from our Crofton, Bowie, and Owings offices throughout Calvert County, Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, and the rest of Maryland.