Police responses in dealing with persons of color whom the police claim were “resisting arrest” have been major topics across America recently, as they rightfully should be. As anyone who’s ever faced such a charge knows, resisting arrest is one of the most subjective crimes in Maryland, and trials on resisting charges may often come down to a contest of who the jury thinks is more credible – you or the police officer. To win a case like that, you may need to be able to show that the officer is biased or that his testimony is not reliable. Succeeding in doing that often requires a highly skilled and experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney, who knows exactly how to get the officer to come across as biased or unreliable on cross-examination.
Successfully rendering a police officer’s testimony not believable through effective cross-examination is not the only way your knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can help you to defeat a resisting arrest charge. There are also specific defenses to a charge of resisting arrest, one of which was highlighted in a recent drug crime case from Worcester County.
The origins of the case began when a Pocomoke City police officer pulled over R.W. for talking on his cell phone while driving. The officer put on his lights and R.W. pulled over. R.W. got out of his car, even though the officer had not told him to do so.
The officer believed R.W. had something in his hands, so he grabbed R.W. from behind and wrestled him to the ground. The officer told R.W. to “stop resisting” and then pepper sprayed the man. R.W. ”complied and quit struggling,” and also threw two bags of marijuana under his car. The officer also recovered a third baggie of marijuana. The three baggies, combined, contained an amount of marijuana less than the minimum required to qualify as a criminal amount under Maryland law (which is 10 grams.)
As noted above, there are several defenses to a resisting charge. You can assert that the officer didn’t try to arrest you, you did not know that you were being arrested, you did not resist with force or that you did not commit a crime that would entitle the officer to arrest you. The last of those four was what R.W.’s legal team asserted.
No probable cause = no valid arrest = no grounds for a resisting charge
Maryland law rightly demands that, in order to be guilty of the crime of resisting arrest, you must have been subject to a valid arrest at the time you resisted. There are many ways that an arrest can be invalid. One way is if the officer who arrested you – and whom you allegedly resisted – lacked probable cause to make an arrest at all.
That’s what happened in R.W’s situation. The amount of drugs he had was below the minimum amount for drug crime prosecution, which meant that the officer didn’t have probable cause for an arrest. Because the officer lacked probable cause, the arrest wasn’t valid and that, in turn, meant that R.W. couldn’t be guilty of resisting.
It is undeniable that police officers face the risk of injury or death in confronting non-compliant arrestees. It is just as true, though, that some officers make errors in judgment in claiming a citizen was “resisting” and that still other officers make flat-out bogus assertions of a detainee’s supposed resisting. When you’re facing a resisting arrest charge in Maryland, you need the right legal team on your side. The skilled Maryland criminal defense attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC have been providing effective and powerful defense representation to the accused in Maryland for many years. To learn more about how you can put the power of this office to work for you, contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form