Understanding Las Vegas Resisting Arrest Charges
In Nevada, as with all states, it is a crime to resist or otherwise obstruct a public officer when he or she is trying to arrest you or carry out official duties. This crime is often referred to as “resisting arrest,” and is defined by Nevada Revised Statutes § 199.280. If you use a weapon while resisting arrest, or commit assault or battery against a public officer, you can be sentenced to years in prison and be required to pay significant fines.
This article will help you better understand Las Vegas resisting arrest charges, but it is not a substitute for legal advice. If you have been charged with resisting a public officer in Clark County, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.
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Penalties for Resisting Arrest Charges in Nevada
If you are convicted of resisting arrest in Las Vegas, the severity of your punishment depends on whether a weapon was involved.
If you are convicted of resisting a police officer and you did not use a weapon, you will face misdemeanor penalties in Nevada. These include:
- Up to six months in jail, and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines.
If you used a firearm while resisting arrest or tried to take the police officer’s firearm while resisting arrest, you may be convicted of a felony and sentenced to:
- One to five years in a Nevada prison, and
- A possible fine of up to $10,000.
If you used a weapon that is not a firearm, or tried to take the police officer’s non-firearm weapons while resisting arrest, you may be convicted of a felony and sentenced to:
- One to four years in a Nevada prison, and
- A possible fine of up to $5,000.
As discussed above, you may also be convicted of battery of a police officer if you used physical force when resisting arrest. This separate offense carries additional criminal penalties in Nevada, including prison time and fines.
Nevada Law: Resisting a Public Officer
The Nevada Revised Statutes define the offense of resisting arrest in NRS 199.280 as follows:
A person who, in any case or under any circumstances not otherwise specially provided for, willfully resists, delays or obstructs a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge any legal duty of his or her office shall be punished:
- Where a firearm is used in the course of such resistance, obstruction or delay, or the person intentionally removes, takes or attempts to remove or take a firearm from the person of, or the immediate presence of, the public officer in the course of such resistance, obstruction or delay, for a category C felony as provided in NRS 193.130.
- Where a dangerous weapon, other than a firearm, is used in the course of such resistance, obstruction or delay, or the person intentionally removes, takes or attempts to remove or take a weapon, other than a firearm, from the person of, or the immediate presence of, the public officer in the course of such resistance, obstruction or delay, for a category D felony as provided in NRS 193.130.
- Where no dangerous weapon is used in the course of such resistance, obstruction or delay, for a misdemeanor.
Legal Definition of Resisting Arrest in Las Vegas
In Las Vegas, the crime of resisting arrest occurs when someone “willfully resists, delays or obstructs a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge any legal duty of his or her office.” This means that it is against the law to stop or attempt to prevent a police officer, sheriff, detective, or other public officer from carrying out their legal duties, including making an arrest. It is also a crime to interfere with a public officer’s efforts to control a large crowd.
Examples of Resisting Arrest under Nevada Law
The Nevada resisting arrest statute is defined broadly by the courts. There are many behaviors or activities that fall under NRS 199.280. Examples of resisting arrest under Nevada law include, but are not limited to:
- Attempting to run or flee from a police officer who tries to place you under arrest;
- Failing to remain still or flailing around when a police officer tries to place you in handcuffs;
- Trying to take a police officer’s service weapons, including his or her gun, baton, or pepper spray;
- Hitting, kicking, or spitting on a police officer; and/or
- Verbally cursing at a police officer if he or she is trying to talk with you or give you an order.
If you use or attempt to use physical force against a police officer while resisting arrest, then you may be charged with the separate crime of assault and battery on a police officer.
Assault and Battery on a Police Officer
Nevada law makes it a criminal offense to intentionally touch another person, including a police officer, in a violent or unlawful way. The Nevada Revised Statutes define battery in NRS 200.481. This statute defines an “officer” as:
- A person who possesses some or all of the powers of a peace officer;
- A person employed in a full-time salaried occupation of fire fighting for the benefit or safety of the public;
- A member of a volunteer fire department;
- A jailer, guard, matron or other correctional officer of a city or county jail or detention facility;
- A justice of the Supreme Court, district judge, justice of the peace, municipal judge, magistrate, court commissioner, master or referee, including, without limitation, a person acting pro tempore in a capacity listed in this subparagraph; or
- An employee of the State or a political subdivision of the State whose official duties require the employee to make home visits.
This means that you could be charged with battery on a public officer for using unlawful force or making violent physical contact with a wide range of public officials.
It is important to understand that hitting, kicking, punching, slapping, or spitting on a police officer while he or she is trying to arrest you can result in battery charges. Prosecutors and courts take these charges very seriously.
Defenses to Resisting Arrest Charges in Nevada
As with all crimes, there are several defenses to resisting arrest charges in Nevada. The prosecution in a criminal case must prove each element of the offense of resisting arrest beyond a reasonable doubt, and in many cases, their evidence is lacking. Common defenses to resisting arrest charges in Clark County include:
- Lack of intent: You cannot be convicted of resisting a public officer if you did not intentionally or willfully try to obstruct the officer in carrying out his or her official duties. For example, if you suffered a seizure during an arrest and unintentionally struck an officer, you cannot be convicted of this crime.
- Lack of resistance: If you did not actually resist the officer’s attempt to arrest you, you probably did not commit this crime. You may be able to assert this defense if there is video footage of your arrest. Sometimes, officers misinterpret rudeness or sarcasm as resistance – but this doesn’t mean you did something illegal.
- Self-defense: Under Nevada law, you can use self-defense against a police officer or public official if they use unreasonable physical force against you. You should know that under such circumstances, you are entitled to respond only with “reasonable” force when defending yourself.
- Unlawful arrest: If a police officer arrests you without a sufficient legal basis, then you cannot be convicted for resisting arrest. A police officer must have an arrest warrant or probable cause to believe you committed a crime before placing you under arrest.
Other defenses may be available to you depending on the facts of your case. In many cases, Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendment violations by law enforcement officers render evidence inadmissible.
Las Vegas Resisting Arrest Defense Officer
If you have been charged with resisting arrest or battery of a public officer, contact an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorney right away. Karen A. Connolly represents defendants facing these and other charges in Las Vegas and the surrounding areas. To discuss your case, call (702) 678-6700 today.