Resisting Arrest in Virginia

When a police officer is lawfully arresting an individual, intentionally preventing or attempting to prevent the arrest is a criminal offense. Depending on the circumstances, fleeing from the police or resisting arrest can result in fines and even jail time in Virginia.

If you were arrested and the police or prosecutor claims you were resisting, contact an experienced Charlottesville criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.  

Resisting Arrest Statute in Virginia

Under Virginia Code § 18.2-460(E), any person who intentionally prevents or attempts to prevent a law-enforcement officer from lawfully arresting him or her, with or without a warrant, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

  • Fleeing from law enforcement is also considered resisting arrest, 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.

Example of Resisting Arrest  

Example 1: A police officer sees a driver hit a car, and the driver then quickly drives away. The officer pulls the driver over and asks the driver to get out of the car. The officer tells the driver he is under arrest for hit and run. The driver turns and runs away. The driver may also be charged with resisting arrest for intentionally preventing the officer from making a lawful arrest.

Example 2: A pedestrian sees a police officer hitting an individual who is sitting on the curb in handcuffs. The pedestrian yells at the officer to stop hitting the person. The officer yells at the pedestrian to come over to the vehicle but the pedestrian runs away. The officer catches up with the pedestrian and places him under arrest for resisting arrest.

In this case, the pedestrian is not likely to be guilty because the officer did not communicate to the person that he was under arrest and the officer did not appear to have the legal authority to place the pedestrian under arrest.

Penalties for Resisting Arrest in Virginia  

In most cases, resisting arrest is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties for a conviction of a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia include:

  • Up to 12 months in jail, and
  • A fine of up to $2,500.

Defenses to Resisting Arrest Charges

There may be a number of legal defenses to use against charges of resisting arrest depending on the facts of a specific case. Talk to your attorney about the best defenses available in your case to fight a conviction or have your charges dismissed. Possible resisting arrest defenses may include:

  • The officer was not identifiable as a law enforcement officer,
  • The defendant did not intentionally do anything to prevent a lawful arrest,
  • The arrest was not lawful, or
  • The officer was not prevented from making an arrest.

Resisting Arrest Charges and Pleading Guilty

Resisting arrest may be an additional charge in addition to the underlying reason the individual was arrested in the first place.

Under the threat of jail time and multiple criminal charges, some defendants accept the deal believing it is their best chance to avoid more serious penalties. However, before pleading guilty to anything, make sure you understand your rights and know what you are giving up by accepting a plea deal.

Charlottesville Resisting Arrest or Fleeing the Police Charges

The police may claim you were resisting arrest when you were doing nothing to prevent the officer from making the arrest. You may have a number of legal defenses to alleged resisting arrest charges. If you or a loved one was arrested and charged with resisting arrest in Charlottesville, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your rights and how to fight to keep a clean record. Contact me today for a free consultation.

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