Virginia Misdemeanor Resisting Arrest
A misdemeanor resisting arrest charge in Virginia is a Class 1 misdemeanor defined by statute as the act of intentionally preventing or attempting to prevent a police officer from lawfully arresting a person. A Class 1 misdemeanor is the most serious classification of misdemeanors in Virginia and is punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. With these penalties in mind, it is important anyone accused of resisting arrest in Virginia consult with an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible to build a strong defense.
Defining Resisting Arrest
When someone is told they are under arrest and, in the opinion of the officer, they committed some act to prevent themselves from being taken into custody, the officer can charge that person with misdemeanor resisting arrest in Virginia.
The act can be something dramatic like running from the scene or driving away very fast away from the officer. It can be something as benign as a person just jerking his or her arm away when the police attempt to take the person into custody. Any of those things can constitute resisting arrest.
This can be a very subjective field of law because it requires the officer to be of the opinion that a person was trying to prevent the arrest.
People often do not see it coming when they are arrested. If that is the case and they jerk away, which is a natural reaction to being grabbed without expecting it, that can add to a defense. But it is at the discretion of the officer as to whether this gets charged, and then it is up to the defense lawyer of the case to handle that in court.
Obstruction of Justice
Obstruction of justice is a separate and distinct crime that has little to do with resisting arrest; it is a much broader statute. Resisting arrest means a person takes a literal physical action to avoid being taken into custody. Obstruction can mean any instance in which a person without a just cause knowingly obstructs law enforcement officers, including the Commonwealth Attorney, in the performance of his or her duties.
It is almost impossible to envision a more broadly written statute. One could make the argument that resisting arrest constitutes some form of obstruction of justice. It is not unusual to see those things charged in concert. But there are a great many things that can be considered obstructing justice that have nothing to do with resisting arrest.
Hiring a Defense Attorney
The number one thing a person who is facing a misdemeanor charge for resisting arrest in Virginia should look for in a defense attorney is experience.
Experience is everything when a person is facing a criminal charge. It has to be good experience that gives the potential client peace of mind, knowing their attorney can deliver positive results. The attorney should have a reputation for being intelligent, aggressive, and knowledgeable when it comes to the law and taking cases to trial.
Therefore, if you are facing a Virginia misdemeanor resisting arrest charge, then you need a lawyer who knows what they are doing and how to do it well.