Resisting an Arrest and Assaulting a Police Officer in Virginia: Overview

Resisting arrest and assaulting police

No one starts their day with the expectation of being arrested by law enforcement. Inevitably, people all across Virginia are arrested every day for a wide variety of criminal violations.

Some violations warrant a significant stint behind bars, and other charges can result in as little as a fine. But regardless of how minor the charge is, nobody wants an arrest on their record.

It is clear that having any arrest on your record can negatively impact important parts of your life.

Sometimes, fear of potential lifelong consequences can lead individuals to resist law enforcement’s attempts to arrest them.

However, resisting arrest usually only compounds the problem as it adds yet another criminal charge to your record. And in some cases, resisting arrest can result in allegations that you assaulted an officer.

If you face allegations of resisting arrest or assaulting an officer, you need to contact a criminal defense lawyer right away. When your freedom is at stake, you do not have time to mess around.

Contact Attorney Andrew Flusche today to set up your initial consultation.

Resisting Arrest in Virginia

Many clients come to our office with a simple question, What is resisting arrest? Unfortunately, the answer often varies depending on which police officer makes the arrest.

The Virginia Code Section 18.2-460 defines resisting arrest as intentionally preventing or attempting to prevent a law enforcement officer from making an arrest. The statute outlines three examples that constitute resisting arrest.

It includes fleeing from a law enforcement officer when:

  • The officer applies physical force to the person; or
  • The officer tells the person that they are under arrest while having the legal authority and immediate physical ability to place the person under arrest—and a reasonable person would know that they are not free to leave.

In many cases, DUI and resisting arrest charges can arise out of the same interaction. For example, if a law enforcement officer advises you that you are under arrest for DUI and you attempt to drive away, you could receive resisting arrest charges.

Virginia considers resisting arrest a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia carries the potential of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Assaulting a Police Officer

Virginia imposes a much more severe penalty for assaulting a police officer than for a typical assault charge. Even though Virginia includes assault and battery in the same statute, they are not necessarily the same thing.

Assault vs. Battery

An assault occurs when the perpetrator commits an intentional act that puts the victim in fear of immediate harm. Virginia defines battery as the simple touching of another person, willfully or in anger.

Assault differs from battery because assault does not require actual touching of or contact with the victim, but battery does. Still, even minor contact can categorize the touching as a battery. The most obvious example of a battery is punching, hitting, or kicking someone.

But just a few other examples of conduct that could result in a battery charge include:

  • Intentionally bumping into someone who is walking by;
  • Throwing a snowball at someone with the intent to harm them; or
  • Kissing a stranger without their consent.

As a general matter, Virginia considers an assault and battery charge a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Penalty for Assaulting a Police Officer

However, Virginia imposes stricter penalties for assaulting a police officer, specifically more jail time. However, you can only face charges of assault of a police officer if the officer was on duty during the alleged assault.

Virginia considers assault and battery on a law enforcement official a Class 6 felony. Technically, Class 6 felonies in Virginia can qualify as felonies or misdemeanors. When treated as a felony, a Class 6 felony in Virginia carries the possibility of between one and five years in prison.

At the discretion of the judge or jury trying the case, they can treat the charge as a misdemeanor and sentence you to jail for no more than 12 months, with a mandatory minimum sentence of six months incarceration. Additionally, a Class 6 felony carries a potential fine of up to $2,500.

A felony conviction can inflict other hardships on your life, including difficulty finding housing, lack of employment opportunities, and restrictions on owning a firearm.

Remember, the bar for sustaining a battery charge is low. If you are facing an arrest, do not give law enforcement any reason to file additional criminal charges against you.

Even if you think your arrest is improper, you can argue your case more effectively if you avoid receiving additional charges for resisting arrest or assault and battery on a law enforcement officer.

Charged with Resisting Arrest or Assaulting a Police Officer? Contact Attorney Andrew Flusche Today

Charges of resisting arrest or assaulting a police officer can lead to jail time, stiff fines, and the negative stigma of a criminal conviction.

My experience and personal knowledge of the inner workings of our local courts are critical to giving my clients the best opportunity to secure a favorable outcome—as you can see by taking a look at some of my results and testimonials from clients.

I have developed professional relationships with prosecutors and officers in the local court system. I strive to give you the outcome you need with the least amount of stress.

Contact my office today to start your initial consultation. I’m here to help.

Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then, I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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