What Happens if You Resist Arrest in Washington?

Man arrested by officerIf you were stopped and arrested by a law enforcement officer, there are certain safeguards in place that protect you from such encounters under the law. Although the law protects you from police misconduct, including excessive force or wrongful arrest, the law likewise protects law enforcement officers when stopping or arresting an individual.

For one, a police officer arresting an individual could exercise the amount of force needed for restraining the individual being arrested. If you attempt to flee, you could be charged with resisting arrest, warns a criminal defense attorney from Feldman & Lee PS in Lynnwood.

Laws on Resisting Arrest in Washington

According to Washington Revised Code Section9A:76.040, you can’t deliberately attempt to or prevent a law enforcement officer from arresting you. State laws differ when defining “law enforcement officers,” but this includes sheriffs, police officers, as well as peace officers including prison guards, park rangers, parole supervisors, probation supervisors, and in certain conditions, off-duty security guards.

Under the Section 9A:76.020 of the Washington Revised Code, you can’t likewise intentionally obstruct, hinder, or delay any law enforcement officer from performing their duties. For example, you can’t resist arrest, provide a law enforcement officer false information and identification, or bar firefighters from accessing a fire site.

Resisting arrest laws vary greatly from one state to another. In the Washington state, this charge is classified as a misdemeanor. But while this is considered a minor charge, it could result in more severe charges depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the incident. For example, if you used force when resisting arrest, your charge could be elevated to third-degree assault, or if you disarmed the arresting officer while resisting the arrest, you could be charged with a felony, warns a top criminal defense attorney in Lynnwood.

Potential Penalties for Resisting Arrest in Washington

Although the specific penalties would depend on the particular circumstances surrounding your case, if you’re charged with resisting arrest, you could face as much as $1,000 in fines and/or jail time of up to 90 days, which is standard for a misdemeanor charge. If you’re charged with obstructing a law enforcement officer, you could face as much as $5,000 in fines and jail time of up to a year because this charge is a gross misdemeanor.

And as mentioned above, you could face harsher penalties if the incident involved aggravating factors such as using force or disarming an officer. With this in mind, seek legal help right away if you are accused of resisting arrest, most especially if you’re facing additional and elevated charges for underlying offenses.