Resisting Arrest - A Real or Cover-Up Charge in NY?
What is the crime of resisting arrest in New York? Did you really do something wrong or might it be time to bring in a criminal defense attorney and civil rights lawyer to help you fight a bogus charge? Here is some background to help you understand what resisting arrest is, what actions on your part might lead to being charged with it, and what role criminal defense attorneys and civil rights lawyers play in helping you fight a resisting arrest charge and protecting your interests.
What is Resisting Arrest?
If you're suspected of a crime and taken into custody by New York police you might be faced with a situation of lawful arrest. Not all arrests are lawful and based upon probable cause. Nevertheless, an attempt at resisting arrest can lead to an additional charge. There is also the possibility that an overzealous police officer might try to justify excessive force used against you by saying you were resisting arrest. To understand the distinction between arrest and prosecution for the legitimate charge of resisting arrest and the not-so-uncommon police abuse scenario, it is important to know what actions constitute the crime.
In New York, here are a few examples of behavior that may lead to charges of resisting arrest:
- Resisting arrest by attempting to elude or flee from a police officer on foot or by vehicle
- Resisting arrest by physically struggling as you're being restrained, handcuffed or put into the car
- Resisting arrest by physically attacking a police officer trying to arrest you
How a Resisting Arrest Charge May Affect Your Future
When a police officer has lawful grounds to place you under arrest, resisting arrest is the last thing you should do. The best thing is to always comply with the police officer's requests without any interference. Keep in mind, resisting arrest can not only lead to additional charges filed against you but might make you appear more guilty of the original crime you're being charged with, regardless of whether or not you actually committed it.
When is it Time to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?
Although resisting arrest might not seem that serious as a secondary charge, you probably want a criminal defense attorney on your side to help you fight it. Even if the original charges against you are dropped or the prosecution fails to prove them beyond a reasonable doubt, being convicted of resisting arrest can put a serious stain on your future by leading to a criminal record. Why? Because in most situations, all that has to be established for a conviction is that police had probable cause to take you into custody and you were resisting arrest in one of the ways we mentioned previously.
The Role of Civil Rights Lawyers in Resisting Arrest Cases
What if you weren't actually resisting arrest? Or, what if you were resisting arrest, but you were beaten by the police in the process? Perhaps a police officer didn't like your attitude or the fact that s/he had to run to catch you and decided to teach you a lesson. If this sounds like your resisting arrest case, it might be time to hire a civil rights lawyer too.
The bottom line is this: The police are not in a position to carry out their own sentences or inflict "personal justice" upon you, regardless of whether or not you were resisting arrest. As the U.S. Supreme Court has opined, the police are supposed to have "thick skin" and not respond unprofessionally to derogatory remarks and similar behavior. They may only use the reasonable force necessary to take you into custody and effectuate the arrest. If they use unnecessary force your rights have been violated. A civil rights lawyer can help you figure that out and pursue the matter.