Resisting arrest is also considered a criminal mischief charge in New Hampshire. If you were placed under arrest by a person that you knew, or should have known, to be a law enforcement officer, you had a duty under the law to submit to that person's authority.
You cannot resist any attempt to detain or arrest you by using force or by using a weapon. The same duty applies if the law enforcement or peace officer is arresting or attempting to arrest or detain another person.
You can verbally protest the arrest by arguing with the officer so long as you do not apply any force or threaten the officer with violence. Taunting the officer or being verbally abusive may qualify as resisting arrest, but there may have to be a reasonably implied threat accompanying the taunt or verbal protest
Also, the arrest does not have to be legal or have any legal basis. Further, the law enforcement officer includes not only a police officer but a parole or probation officer.
Most people are aware that they committed a crime and are subject to arrest, but there are situations of mistaken identity. It is best, however, that you peacefully submit to an arrest if you are reasonably aware that the person is a peace officer. If you are arrested for any charge, immediately call a New Hampshire criminal defense attorney.
Resisting arrest is usually charged as a misdemeanor, which carries a possible jail sentence of up to one year. If the resister used a weapon or caused bodily injury to the officer, he or she could be charged with a Class B felony along with an assault and battery charge. A Class B felony carries possible incarceration in state prison of 3 and one half to 7 years.
Criminal Defenses for Resisting Arrest in NH
There are defenses against the crime of resisting arrest that a competent NH criminal defense lawyer can explore for you. A peace officer has to act within reasonable bounds and not use unnecessary force and violence that would constitute an assault or battery in effecting the arrest or detention.
For example, if the officer without cause attempt an arrest by beating the accused with a weapon or by molesting the defendant, he or she has a right to reasonable self-defense.
Further, the officer must have acted under color of authority and have announced his or her intention to arrest you. If the officer was not in uniform, did not produce official identification, and merely attempted to place handcuffs on you, this could constitute a reasonable defense. However, a police officer can be off-duty but so long as he or she is wearing a uniform or badge and announces his or her intention to arrest you, the officer is acting under color of authority.
If the peace officer acted illegally and without color of authority, he or she could be charged with a federal offense under Section 242 of Title 18, Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law, which is punishable up to one year in prison. If a weapon is used by the officer or the threat of one while acting illegally, he or she faces up to 10 years. A fatality or the use of violence can subject the officer to life in prison.
If the arrest was illegal, you might also have a civil action for false arrest or even for personal injury if you suffered injuries.
Ryan Russman is a prominent criminal defense attorney in Exeter, New Hampshire who also has offices in Manchester and Portsmouth and has handled serious criminal cases including charges of resisting arrest throughout the state. Mr. Russman is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and has appeared on radio and television to discuss criminal law topics.