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North Carolina Criminal Law 14-223: Resisting Arrest

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

Resist Arrest Resisting Arrest, is criminal law created by the North Carolina General Assembly and is set forth in NC Criminal Law 14-223. As a specific intent crime an essential element of the offense requires an unlawful, deliberate, and intentional act.

The State of North Carolina bears the Burden of Proof to the legal standard of Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. The Defendant has no such duty to present evidence or prove innocence.

The accused is presumed innocent. The failure to “take the stand,” present evidence, or present a defense cannot be considered or held against the Defendant.

A “reasonable doubt” is a doubt that requires the finder of fact to be fully satisfied or entirely convinced the Defendant is guilty.

To survive a Motion to Dismiss, the State is charged with the duty to present sufficient evidence of the prima facie elements of the offense of Resisting Arrest, including things:

  1. The victim is a police officer (public officer)
  2. The Defendant knew the victim was an officer OR
  3. The Defendant should have reasonably known the victim was an officer
  4. The victim was making a lawful arrest OR
  5. The victim was attempting to make a lawful arrest
  6. The Defendant
    1. Resisted OR
    2. Delayed OR
    3. Obstructed the arresting officer
  7. The Defendant acted without legal authority, legal justification, and/or excuse
  8. The Defendant acted intentionally and willfully

North Carolina Pattern Jury Instruction (Criminal Volume) – 230.31 sets forth the elements of the crime of Resisting Arrest.

Resisting an illegal arrest and/or defending another from an unlawful arrest may be authorized under the NC Criminal Laws.

2. Examples

1. Defendant is a regular patron of a bar in uptown Charlotte at the Epicentre. He is also drunk. The bartender “86’s” Defendant, refusing to serve more alcohol. Defendant becomes belligerent, yelling out, “Hey losers, I’m driving home,” and drunkenly stumbles towards the bar without paying his tab. A bouncer attempts to stop the Defendant at the door. The bouncer is a “private security officer.” He knows the Defendant, normally likes him, and assumes the Defendant forgot to pay his tab. The bouncer also doesn’t want the Defendant do “drunk drive,” knowing his license is already suspended for another pending DWI charge in Charlotte. When stopped, the Defendant shoves the bouncer and a physical altercation ensues. The bouncer, working in his official capacity as private security, takes the Defendant to the ground. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officers, working off-duty at the Epicentre turn a corner, see the fight, and become involved. They do not know what caused the altercation. They do not know why the bouncer took the Defendant to the ground. While the Defendant is on the ground, he fights the bouncer and pulls his arms away. CMPD Officers join the scuffle and attempt to handcuff the Defendant who continues to pull his arms away. Because of his drunken state, the Defendant does not understand police officers have become involved. He also cannot see the police officers because he is face down on the pavement and has multiple men holding him down, including bouncers, wait staff, and CMPD police officers.

Defendant is charged with Resisting Arrest for pulling away from the bouncer working in his official capacity. Defendant cannot be convicted of Resisting Arrest as the bouncer is not a law enforcement officer. Defendant is also charged with two additional accounts of Resisting Arrest by two Charlotte Police Officers. Defenses may exist for such charges in that Defendant did not know and/or could not reasonably know he was pulling away from police officers. He did not intend to resist a police officer. Defense lawyers would also question the “arrest” itself, as the process did not begin with a duty authorized law enforcement officer.

3. Related Legal Issues and Offenses
  1. What Does Indicted Mean?
  2. Middle Finger to Police: Reasonable Suspicion?
  3. Internal Affairs Files
  4. North Carolina Criminal Law Chapter 14-286.2: Interfering with Emergency Communications
  5. Resisting Arrest Law – N.C.G.S. 14-223
4. Defenses to Resisting Arrest

As a specific intent crime, limited Common Law defenses may be available including:

  1. Lawfully Resisting an Illegal Arrest
  2. Defending others from an Illegal Arrest
  3. Lack of Intent to Resist Arrest
  4. Lack of Willfully Resisting Arrest
  5. Objectively Reasonable Mistake

Resisting Arrest It doesn’t matter whether you face a misdemeanor or felony charge, effective defenses to criminal charges often are predicated on formulating a plan and addressing the allegations head-on.

Our team of Charlotte criminal defense lawyers are available for immediate consultation.

Legal fees are predicated, in part, on the nature and circumstances of the offense, the severity of the charges, any prior criminal history level, the complexity of the matter(s), and the projected amount of time necessary for legal representation.

Our Charlotte lawyers charge nothing for legal consultations on criminal charges.

That is different from family law matters involving divorce, child custody, and visitation issues. Such matters often require a true retainer, consultation fees, and an hourly legal rate.

As such, for matters involving things like DWI charges in Charlotte, larceny charges, traffic tickets, drug charges, etc., we encourage you to call and schedule a free phone consultation.

Call NOW: 704-342-4357. Bill Powers' email address is: Bill@CarolinaAttorneys.com

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