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I’ve Resisted Arrest in NJ — What Are My Rights?

Posted by Carmine R. Villani | Feb 04, 2020 | 0 Comments

If you've been charged with resisting arrest in New Jersey, you need to contact an experienced NJ criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

To preserve your rights, you should be extremely cautious when speaking with prosecutors or other officials. There are defenses available in a resisting arrest case, but you need the help of a skilled lawyer to ensure that you have a chance to review all of the evidence and develop a compelling legal strategy. Counsel can negotiate an advantageous plea bargain or ensure that you get a fair trial.

Don't assume that these charges are minor. The crime of resisting arrest covers a variety of acts, and if convicted, these charges could result in up to five years in prison. A tough NJ criminal defense lawyer can help resolve your charge and avoid jail or prison.

Don't Speak With Prosecutors or Judges on Your Own

You have the right not to speak with police officers, prosecutors, or the court about the details of your case. This is commonly known as the right to remain silent. Exercising this right is critical for preserving available defenses in your case.

You may need to speak with law enforcement or the courts about administrative details or to set a court date. However, make it clear that you don't want to discuss details of what happened or answer questions. You should also state that you want a lawyer.

Many people believe that they can simply explain what happened to a prosecutor or judge, and the charges will be dismissed, but this is rarely correct. Prosecutors are primarily looking for ways to win their case. Prosecutors may twist your words or find small inconsistencies in your statements that they will use against you.

Resisting arrest cases are sometimes based on misunderstandings, confusion, or false allegations by police. Perhaps a police officer didn't clearly communicate that you were under arrest. Or maybe they've alleged that you resisted or interfered with an arrest when your actions were legally justified. There are defenses available in these cases but saying the wrong thing can ruin your chances for a positive outcome.

If you've already spoken to police or prosecutors about the charges, don't panic. A NJ resisting arrest lawyer can still help you, but you should seek their counsel as soon as possible.

You Have the Right to Speak With a Lawyer

The right to be represented by a criminal defense lawyer is one of your most valuable legal rights. Law enforcement officials are most interested in winning a case against you, and courts are generally required to remain neutral. But an NJ criminal defense lawyer will be your advocate and work to protect your rights and interests throughout the case.

A lawyer can speak with you about your case and:

  • Determine whether there are defenses available
  • Develop a powerful legal strategy
  • Present the most favorable evidence
  • Review the evidence in your case
  • Make sure the laws are applied fairly and correctly

It's wise to hire a lawyer experienced in handling resisting arrest cases in New Jersey. The legal procedures in criminal court must be followed carefully, and a knowledgeable lawyer can make arguments that will be most persuasive to a prosecutor, judge, or jury.

The Right to Review Evidence in Your Case

As with any criminal case, you have the right to review the evidence that the prosecutor has against you. This process of reviewing evidence in a legal matter is also called discovery. In a resisting arrest case, this evidence might include:

  • Police reports
  • Body or dash camera footage from police
  • Witness statements
  • Statements you made
  • Photographs
  • Security camera footage

However, discovery doesn't always tell you exactly what the prosecutor's case will look like at trial. Some items may be inadmissible in court, and you won't know exactly how witnesses will testify when questioned in a courtroom. However, it will help your attorney determine available defenses and whether you should consider a plea bargain.

The Prosecutor Must Prove the Charges Against You

The prosecutor has the burden of proving that you resisted arrest under New Jersey law. If you choose not to accept a plea bargain, you have the right to make the prosecutor prove every element of the charge against you.

The elements of resisting arrest vary depending on the type and degree of the offense. For example, if you're charged with resisting arrest under N.J.S. §2C:29-2(a)(1) as a disorderly persons offense, the prosecutor must prove that:

  • The specific person making the arrest was a law enforcement officer
  • You had reason to know that the person was a law enforcement officer
  • You deliberately attempted to prevent the officer from making the arrest

The prosecutor must prove additional or different elements for other types of resisting arrest. Prosecutors sometimes have difficulty proving all the elements of a resisting arrest offense. For example, if you didn't understand that the officer was trying to arrest you, the prosecutor might have difficulty proving that you intended to prevent an arrest. However, these cases are tricky for defendants as well, and it's often necessary to present your own evidence or testimony to refute elements of the offense. A NJ criminal lawyer can help you prepare an effective defense.

What If the Arrest Was Unlawful?

Police occasionally make unlawful arrests. They may arrest someone based on mistaken identity or based on actions that are not criminal. Sometimes people are understandably upset and may argue with the officer or attempt to flee an unlawful arrest.

However, pursuant to N.J.S. §2C:29-2, it's not a defense to resisting arrest that the officer was acting unlawfully in making the arrest. However, you may have a solid defense if the officer was not acting under official authority or did not announce his intention to arrest you.

Understanding whether a defense is available to you isn't always easy. If you're facing charges for resisting an unlawful arrest, the attorneys at Villani & DeLuca are available to discuss your options.

Seeking Expungement of a Resisting Arrest Conviction

You may have the right to seek expungement of a conviction for resisting arrest. However, expungements are only available after a significant period of time has passed, and you will be stuck with the consequences of a conviction on your record in the meantime. 

You should speak with an NJ resisting arrest attorney before accepting a plea deal to determine whether you might be eligible for expungement in the future.

Defend Your Rights by Calling a New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you're accused of resisting arrest, you have valuable rights that could help you achieve an advantageous outcome. You must take the proper action to defend these rights and give yourself the best chance of avoiding harsh penalties.

Experienced defense lawyers at Villani & DeLuca are available 24/7 to speak with you. Protect your future by calling now at (732) 709-7757 or contacting them online.

About the Author

Carmine R. Villani

Founding partner, Carmine Villani, Esq. is a former municipal prosecutor with over three decades of experience in Criminal and DWI Defense.


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