Dealing with police can be stressful, especially if you have had negative experiences with law enforcement in the past. When an officer approaches you, your first instinct may be to get away as quickly as possible, but this is seldom a wise decision. While you may understand that your past convictions or the suspicion of police may place you in a difficult situation, running away will only make matters worse.
Even more serious consequences may arise if you resist arrest. The crime of resisting arrest can have complex elements, and it is important that you understand what actions Maryland police may consider resisting.
Resisting is not always a struggle
Any action you take that hinders police from performing their duties may fall under the crime of resisting arrest. You may imagine that resisting means struggling or fighting police who are trying to place handcuffs on you, but the charge is not limited to this. Police may claim you resisted them if you blocked their way, gave a fake name or refused to walk of your own volition to the police vehicle. For a conviction for this crime, the prosecution must prove the following:
- That you knew the person detaining you was a police officer or that you should have known
- That the police officer was performing his or her duties within the scope of the law and your rights
- That you intentionally tried to prevent the officer from performing those duties
Resisting arrest is a misdemeanor, but that does not mean you will get off lightly. In fact, Maryland penalties for this offense include thousands in fines and the potential for months or years in jail for a conviction. Additionally, it is not uncommon for such situations to escalate quickly as adrenaline rises and tempers flare. This may lead to far more serious charges, such as assault on a police officer or others.
Defending against the charges
Your attorney can review the circumstances of your arrest and help you deal with any claims that you resisted. In some cases, the state will not prosecute a charge of resisting arrest unless it results in bodily harm. Your attorney will also want to know if the arrest itself was lawful, although this may not affect a charge of resisting. Even if you believe police have made a mistake, the best course of action is to comply with their orders and remain silent until you can speak with a lawyer.