A Former Prosecutor Defending Clients in Wyoming and South Dakota
Charges of resisting arrest and obstruction of justice are serious, and the penalties can be severe. Prosecutors take these cases seriously and will pursue them aggressively, especially if a police officer was injured or killed. But an experienced criminal defense attorney can defend you against charges of resisting arrest and obstruction of justice by thoroughly investigating your case, standing up for your rights, and fighting the charges in court.
According to Wyoming statutes, resisting arrest occurs when a person “knowingly obstructs, impedes or interferes with or resists arrest by a peace officer while engaged in the lawful performance of his official duties.” A person can be charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice if they interfere with a law enforcement officer’s efforts to lawfully place someone under arrest.
Many people think of resisting arrest and obstruction of justice as two separate crimes. But Wyoming does not distinguish between the two. Whether a defendant was interfering with a law enforcement officer who was trying to place someone under arrest or made false statements to police during the course of investigation, they will be charged under the same statute for resisting arrest and obstruction of justice.
Resisting arrest and obstruction of justice is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
If a person “intentionally and knowingly causes or attempts to cause bodily injury to a peace officer engaged in the lawful performance of his official duties” he is guilty of a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
“A person who intentionally and knowingly disarms a peace officer of his firearm while that peace officer is engaged in the lawful performance of his official duties is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than five (5) years.”
During an investigation or arrest, police officers and other law enforcement officials may try to intimidate you by claiming that you are not cooperating. If you make their job more difficult by asserting your rights, they may become frustrated and threaten to charge you with obstruction of justice. But you never need to give up your constitutional rights, no matter what a police officer says.
If you are interacting with a law enforcement officer, it is important that you understand your rights.
Once the police have decided to place you under arrest, there is little you can do to change their mind. If you make their job more difficult, even by calmly asserting your rights or refusing to comply, there is a good chance that they will charge you with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice. But it is important to take the long view.
Remain calm. Comply, as much as possible, with the police officer’s requests. But do not answer questions. Instead, calmly and politely tell the police officer that you are exercising your right to remain silent. Ask to speak to a lawyer, and don’t say anything until your lawyer arrives.
Being charged with resisting arrest or obstructing justice is serious. Prosecutors handle these cases aggressively, especially if a police officer was injured in the line of duty. As a result, if you have been charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice, it is critical that you have a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.
The most common defenses to charges of obstruction of resisting arrest and obstruction of justice are self defense and that the arrest was unlawful.
Self defense. Police officers are allowed to use as much force as is necessary to accomplish their lawful objective. If a police officer believes you are resisting, he will claim he was justified in using more force. But if your criminal defense lawyer can show that the police officer was not justified in his use of force you can successfully argue that you were defending yourself. But beware—as the person being placed under arrest, you can only use an amount of force that is necessary under the circumstances.
Unlawful arrest. Your criminal defense lawyer can also argue that the arrest itself was unlawful. If the arrest was not supported by probable cause or was made without a warrant, your lawyer might be able to have the charges against you dismissed on the basis that the police were not justified in placing you under arrest.
Charges of resisting arrest and obstruction of justice are serious and should not be taken lightly. Prosecutors take these cases seriously, and will prosecute them aggressively. To protect your one shot at justice, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side who understands how the criminal justice system works. You need a team of criminal defense professionals who will thoroughly investigate the charges against you and aggressively defend you in court.
At Just Criminal Law, our founding attorney, Christina L. Williams, is a former prosecutor. Today, she uses her experience to defend people who have been accused of crimes. Ms. Williams works with an experienced team of criminal defense professionals who will do everything they can to protect your one shot at justice.
If you or someone you care about was charged with a crime, we invite you to learn more about the cases we handle and the communities we serve, then contact us today to schedule your personalized case review and strategy session.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.