DC Resisting Arrest Lawyer

In DC, resisting arrest is considered a misdemeanor offense. If a person knows or has reason to believe an individual is a police officer and prevents that police officer from making or attempting to make an arrest, this behavior qualifies as resisting.

However, resisting arrest or resisting a law enforcement officer can also qualify as an assault on a police officer in certain cases. Different actions and behaviors can constitute an assault on a police officer in DC, including physically assaulting, resisting, opposing, impeding, or intimidating a police officer. Even though it is a misdemeanor offense in DC, you should contact an experienced DC resisting arrest lawyer immediately to being mitigating the damage and building a defense.

What Does it Mean to Resist Arrest?

In the context of an assault on a police officer, the conduct must be more than mere avoidance or mere passive resistance. In order to qualify as an assault on a police officer, a person’s behavior must be considered active confrontation, active obstruction, or some other action directed towards an officer and against the performance of the officer’s duties.

In the context of a resisting arrest offense, the threshold is somewhat lower in that a person only has to prevent an officer in some way from making an arrest or detainment. Evading an officer or providing false identification when the officer is trying to determine a person’s identity would qualify as resisting arrest, but would not qualify as an assault on a police officer.


A person can be charged with a few different offenses for the behavior of resisting an arrest. In DC, there is a very specific misdemeanor resisting arrest charge, which makes it illegal to resist an arrest or prevent an arrest by a person you know or have reason to believe is a law enforcement officer. This type of arrest cannot be challenged as unlawful. Therefore, even if the police do not have probable cause to arrest you, it is illegal to use force to resist an arrest if you know or have reason to believe the person who is trying to arrest you is a law enforcement officer.

A person could also be charged with assault on a police officer for resisting. In DC, it is illegal to assault, oppose, impede, intimidate, interfere, or resist a police officer, and all of those actions would constitute the offense of assault on a police officer. Generally, this charge is a misdemeanor in DC, but if a person’s actions cause significant bodily injury to the law enforcement officer or create a grave risk of causing significant bodily injury, the offense could be charged as a felony.

How Could a Person Challenge a Resisting Arrest Charge?

A person can disagree with the charges put against them. However, this is not up to the person who has been charged. When law enforcement arrests someone, the case gets forwarded to the prosecutor’s office, and the prosecutor determines if the person will be charged. The prosecutor is supposed to determine whether the facts amount to the elements of the offense. A person who has been arrested may challenge the arrest as unlawful through their DC resisting arrest attorney.

Jurisdiction Variances

Different jurisdictions treat resisting arrest in different ways. Some jurisdictions refer to resisting arrest as obstruction of justice. Other jurisdictions simply have a resisting arrest offense that would not qualify as an assault on a police officer offense. However, in DC, resisting arrest can be charged either as an assault on a police officer or as a charge of resisting arrest. Both are misdemeanors and are punishable by a $1,000.00 fine, six months in jail, or both.

Consulting With a DC Resisting Arrest Attorney

These charges are taken seriously by law enforcement and prosecuted aggressively. A lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and help you avoid potential jail time and large fines. Your lawyer can also develop a defense for your case, which will be helpful during negotiations with the prosecutor or during a trial. An experienced resisting arrest attorney in DC can also present you with all of your options as to how to resolve your case of resisting arrest.