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DC Misdemeanor Resisting Arrest Charges

A misdemeanor resisting arrest charge in DC, although considered a misdemeanor, can still have serious consequences. In severe instances, an individual could be facing potential jail time, as well as sizable fines. If you have found yourself facing a misdemeanor resisting arrest charge in the District of Columbia, it is pertinent that you contact an experienced resisting arrest attorney as soon as possible. The right lawyer will be able to strongly and properly defend you in a court of law, and help to ensure any penalties you may be facing are reduced or dismissed.

Defining the Charge

In DC, resisting an arrest by a person who is reasonably believed to be a law enforcement officer is a misdemeanor offense. In order to be convicted of resisting arrest, the government would have to prove that the defendant intentionally and without justifiable and excusable cause resisted an arrest, or prevented the arrest of someone else, by a person who the defendant had reason to believe was a law enforcement officer at the time.

Even though the charge is considered a misdemeanor offense in DC, it is taken seriously by both law enforcement and prosecutors. Many times, resisting arrest is in addition to another charge, which is one of the reasons it is taken seriously by the prosecutors. It is seen as creating a risk of danger to law enforcement and the investigative process. The maximum potential penalties a person could face for resisting arrest are six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Reasons for the Charge

If law enforcement is trying to effectuate an arrest of a person for another offense and the person is resisting law enforcement’s efforts, law enforcement would be able to arrest the person for the underlying charge as well as on a resisting arrest charge. Once a person is arrested for any given offense, the prosecutor’s office decides whether to formally charge a person with the offenses he or she was arrested for. In DC, when the prosecutor formally files charges against the person, it is referred to as papering the case. Prosecutors will paper cases that they believe can be proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutors believe that the elements of resisting arrest have been met, the person will be charged with resisting arrest.

Obstructing Justice

Obstructing justice is a criminal offense in DC that is punishable by a minimum of three years and a maximum of 30 years in jail, in addition to potential fines. There are several situations that qualify as an obstruction of justice. Obstruction occurs when a person intimidates, threatens, or corruptly persuades a juror, witness, or an officer in an official proceeding, with the intent to influence or prevent the truthful testimony of that person.

Harassing another person with the intention of preventing or dissuading him or her from testifying truthfully, or reporting a criminal offense, is also considered obstruction. Similarly, injuring or threatening to injure someone’s person or property if he or she provides information for a criminal investigation is also an obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice is an entirely separate offense from resisting arrest in DC. In some jurisdictions, resisting arrest and obstruction of justice are related, and even considered the same offense. However, this is not the case in DC, as resisting arrest in DC is a misdemeanor, and obstruction of justice is a felony.

Benefits of an Attorney

If you are facing resisting arrest charges in DC, it is important to find a lawyer who has experience handling cases in the DC Superior Court. It is helpful to have an attorney who appears before Superior Court judges often, and who regularly negotiates with the prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office in DC. It is also important to have a lawyer who has experience specifically defending these types of charges in DC, as he or she will be able to advise you on how these charges are typically handled and what a fair resolution might be given the facts and circumstances of your case.

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