When a person commits an act resulting in a police officer placing them under arrest, the last thing they should do is resist. In many states, including South Carolina, resisting arrest can have significant legal consequences. While in some cases it may only be a fine, more severe cases can have fines plus prison time. To ensure the specifics of resisting arrest are clear, here are additional facts not only about resisting arrest, but also the penalties associated with it and the various defense strategies used by those facing resisting arrest charges in South Carolina.
Arrested at Any Time
In most states, criminal laws are bound by a statute of limitations, meaning prosecuting attorneys only have a certain amount of time to file charges against a person. However, this is not the case for South Carolina residents. By failing to have a statute of limitations, it is possible for a person to be charged with anything at anytime, including resisting arrest. While this does give prosecutors additional flexibility to level charges against those who have been deemed to resist arrest, the fact is this option is rarely used.
Is Resisting Arrest a Misdemeanor or a Felony in South Carolina?
When it comes to resisting arrest, the answer to this question can get complex. According to the South Carolina Code, resisting arrest is defined as intentionally and knowingly attempting to avoid arrest by a person who’s known to be a law enforcement officer. In normal situations, this is considered to be a misdemeanor offense. However, if the person intentionally assaults or injures the officer during the attempted arrest, the charge can be considered a felony offense. In addition, if the person uses a deadly weapon to resist arrest or simply claims to have a deadly weapon while the officer attempts to arrest them, it is a felony offense. Under South Carolina law, a deadly weapon is any item that can cause deadly force, such as a firearm, knife, or blunt instrument such as a bat or pipe.
Penalties for Resisting Arrest in South Carolina
According to South Carolina law, a misdemeanor resisting arrest conviction can result in up to one year in jail and/or a fine ranging from $500-$1,000. If the officer was assaulted during the arrest, the fine increases to $1,000-$10,000 and imprisonment can be as much as 10 years. And if a deadly weapon or the threat of a deadly weapon was used by the accused, the maximum sentence remains 10 years. However, in these cases the person will have a minimum sentence of two years, with a requirement of six months served before parole may be granted.
Defenses to Resisting Arrest
While it may sound as if there are few defenses to a resisting arrest charge, the fact is there are numerous situations that can be argued by the defense. For example, if the law enforcement officer fails to properly identify themselves during the altercation, they can be found to be at fault by not fulfilling their duties. In addition, self-defense can be a viable defense, especially if the officer uses unreasonable force in attempting to make the arrest. Finally, if the arrest itself is unlawful, you have done nothing wrong by resisting. This is commonly used as a defense if police conduct an unlawful search of a person’s home or vehicle, which essentially negates their ability to file resisting arrest charges.
By understanding the definition of resisting arrest, the potential penalties that may result, and the defenses that can be used to defend yourself against the charges, it’s likely you will be able to avoid many situations that could lead to these charges being levied against you.