Criminal Mischief

Can You Get Resisting Arrest Charges Dropped?

Being arrested for a crime or disorderly persons offense can be a frightening and confusing time. It’s natural for your flight or fight responses to kick in. However, this can often lead to an additional charge of resisting arrest. A criminal defense attorney will know how to get resisting arrest charges dropped in NJ and can help you defend yourself in court. A resisting arrest charge can carry heavy penalties, including additional fines and jail time. Having a strong defense is key to avoiding a conviction and associated punishments.

What is Resisting Arrest?

New Jersey law describes resisting arrest as any action taken to intentionally prevent a public servant from executing their official functions. Basically, no citizen or member of the community can interfere with a lawful arrest. For the state to officially charge someone with resisting arrest, the following elements must be proven in a court of law:

  • An unlawful act was committed by the arrested individual. Unlawful acts include but are not limited to physical violence, force, interference, or intimidation. Attempting to flee when approached is also considered a form of resisting arrest.
  • The actions taken were done so with the intent to specifically prevent or obstruct a lawful arrest or other government function.
  • The actions taken by the individual resulted in the impairment or prevention of the lawful arrest or other government functions.

For example, if an officer is in the process of arresting someone and that person pushes the officer away when they try to handcuff them, this would be considered resisting arrest. However, proving that an individual was actively resisting arrest isn’t always easy. By working with a criminal defense attorney, you can build your case and help get the charges dropped.

Resisting Arrest Penalties

Most cases classify resisting arrest as a disorderly persons offense. Attempts to prevent an arrest are usually not as harshly punished as other charges. However, certain actions can elevate the charges to an indictable offense. For example, attempting to flee when under arrest would elevate the charge to a fourth-degree indictable offense. The charge could further elevate to a third-degree indictable offense if, in the attempt to stop the arrest, the individual used physical violence that risked injury to the arresting officer or surrounding persons.

Penalties for resisting arrest depend on the level of the charge and the specifics surrounding your case. The punishment for typical resisting arrest charges includes:

  • Disorderly Persons Offense – Fines of up to $1000 and up to six months of jail time
  • Fourth-Degree Indictable Offense – Fines of up to $10,000 and up to 18 months of jail time
  • Third-Degree Indictable Offense – Fines of up to $15,000 and up to five years in jail

Resisting arrest charges can add to the penalties you may face for the initial reason for arrest. Working with a criminal defense attorney is your best chance to have the charges dropped or the penalties reduced.

resisting arrest charge
Photo by Luke Southern on Unsplash

How to Get a Resisting Arrest Charge Dropped in NJ

There are a few main points of defense your criminal defense attorney can use to help fight your resisting arrest charges. Each can work to defend your case and prove that you were acting in a manner meant to protect yourself and your rights, not a manner meant to cause disruption or harm.

Unlawful Arrest

When under arrest, the arresting officer has the duty to clearly identify themselves and inform you of your rights. Failure to make themselves known as a police officer or act in accordance with your personal rights can result in an unlawful arrest. It would be only natural for someone to run away from a stranger trying to handcuff them if they had no idea that person was a police officer. In cases where the arrest was unlawful, your defense attorney can show that you were only resisting arrest because you were unaware of the situation. 

Another form of unlawful arrest includes the arresting officer acting without probable cause or a warrant. Officers cannot just go around arresting anyone they want to for no reason. If the police officer did not have reasonable cause to assume you had committed a crime or did not have a warrant for your arrest, you may have the resisting arrest charge dropped.

How a Defense Attorney Can Help with Resisting Arrest Charges

Resisting arrest charges can carry severe penalties. Working with a criminal defense attorney can help you fight those charges and have your penalties reduced. Your criminal defense lawyer will help you evaluate your case and understand the specific charges you face. Then, they’ll work with you to gather the evidence needed to support their defense strategy. Whether you’re trying to prove an unlawful arrest or other circumstances, your attorney can help defend your resisting arrest charges. More than that, your lawyer will also be able to help you fight the charges you originally faced in the first place.

How to Get a Resisting Arrest Charge Dropped in NJ with a Criminal Defense Attorney

With over 20 years of experience practicing criminal defense, Attorney Leon Matchin knows how to get resisting arrest charges dropped in NJ. No matter the case, he works hard to fight for his clients and defend their rights in court. If you face resisting arrest charges, don’t face them alone. Call Attorney Leon Matching today at (833) 732-7320, or email him at for a consultation about your case.

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