Interactions with police officers today can often be confusing, especially for people who do not have a history of being arrested or investigated by police. Often, young people and first-time offenders are very confused by aggressive police tactics, shouting, and being held at gunpoint by law enforcement. In many cases involving these kinds of interactions, resisting arrest charges are filed against the defendant for their natural reactions to defend themselves in a scary situation.
If you or a loved one is a University of Maryland student who was charged with resisting arrest, call a lawyer to help with your case. The Law Offices of Randolph Rice represents students charged with crimes in Maryland, working to get charges dropped and keep them in school. For a free legal consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (410) 694-7291.
Definition of “Resisting Arrest” in Maryland
In Maryland, many criminal laws do not have explicit definitions, relying instead upon “common law.” This gives may additional rights and protections that may not always be apparent, but it also makes it more confusing for individuals to identify what exactly constitutes a crime.
Md. Code Criminal Law, § 9-408 makes it illegal to “resist a lawful arrest.” This statute also makes it a crime to interfere with someone else’s arrest – whether that be a friend or a stranger. These laws are used to protect police in the administration of their duties, punishing people who seek to slow down the process of arresting criminals and bringing them to justice. However, this law is often used broadly, covering many kinds of conduct and issues that probably should not be charged as resisting arrest.
This law is broad and does not specify that the conduct used to resist arrest must involve force or violence. This means that while you may be arrested for something like physically fighting off police officers, you could also potentially be arrested for locking yourself in your car, refusing to put your hands behind your back to be handcuffed, or going limp so police have to carry your dead weight into a cruiser.
Defenses to Resisting Arrest Charges in MD
In many cases, what you are initially arrested for and what you can actually be convicted for are different. Your attorney can challenge the case against you, arguing that what you did does not legally constitute resisting arrest. If this defense is successful, the judge should drop the charges against you.
Resisting arrest also has a built-in defense, though it is hard to claim. Unlike many states, Maryland allows you to resist an illegal arrest. This means that if the police do not have probable cause to arrest you or they otherwise violate rules and procedures before arresting you, you should have the right to resist the arrest. However, this defense is hard to use because police are given a lot of leeway as to what constitutes an “illegal” arrest, with courts typically forgiving honest mistakes.
Note that, typically, charges for resisting arrest imply that there was also something else you were initially arrested for. In many cases, you can still be charged with resisting arrest even if the original charges you were arrested for are dropped or dismissed.
Penalties for Resisting Arrest
If you are charged with resisting arrest in Maryland, you can face substantial penalties. One of the core purposes of this statute is to help deter people from resisting arrest, making the job safer for police officers and persuading against fights and shoot-outs with police officers. However, these strict penalties are disproportionate to the defendant’s conduct in many cases, and an attorney can help fight for reduced sentences.
Generally, resisting arrest can come with up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. This crime is graded as a misdemeanor, which means that you will not be considered a “felon” and might not have as many restrictions on voting or purchasing a gun after you serve your time – but 3 years is still a very strict penalty.
In many cases, your attorney may be able to argue for reduced sentencing. Especially if this is your first run-in with the law, the judge may find a high sentence unnecessary. Your attorney can also argue for reduced sentences as part of a plea bargain, where the prosecution will agree to drop resisting arrest charges or reduce the penalties in exchange for a plea to another offense.
Probation may also be available as an alternative to jail time. Probation still restricts your freedom by handing down restrictions and requirements, such as checking in with a probation officer, allowing them to search you and your house, and not leaving the state without permission. Still, probation may keep you out of jail, allowing you to stay with your family and continue attending classes at UMD.
Call Our Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyers for UMD Students
If you or a loved one is a University of Maryland student who was charged with resisting arrest or another criminal offense, call the Law Offices of Randolph Rice today. Our resisting arrest lawyers for UMD students represent people accused of serious crimes and fight to get their charges dropped and dismissed. We can also intercede and represent you in disciplinary hearings at school and fight to keep you enrolled after facing serious criminal charges. For a free legal consultation on your case, call our law offices today at (410) 694-7291.