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In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • The circumstances that can lead to a charge of resisting arrest in South Carolina
  • The penalties that result from being charged with resisting arrest
  • What a qualified attorney can do for you if you’re charged with resisting arrest in SC

Imagine you’re being pulled over for something minor like a speeding ticket or broken tail light. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you just drove away?

It’s likely that you realized that things would be much worse for you if you made this decision, but you’d be forgiven for not knowing the details. You’d probably be charged with resisting arrest, on top of the citation or charge for which you were pulled over in the first place.

Common Resisting Arrest Questions & Answers

Here are all your questions answered about resisting arrest: what is it, what does it mean, and what are the potential penalties?

1. Is Resisting Arrest a Crime?

Yes! Depending on the circumstances, resisting arrest is illegal under SC Code Section 16-9-320 and Section 16-3-625. If you are charged with resisting arrest, these charges will appear on your criminal record along with any other charges related to the incident in question.

2. What Is the Definition of Resisting Arrest?

The law in South Carolina says, basically, that resisting arrest means knowingly and willfully resisting or opposing an officer while he or she is attempting to arrest you. This can include fighting or being defiant during an arrest, or fleeing from police when being approached.

This charge assumes two things:

With these in mind, the grounds for resisting arrest are fairly subjective, which is why it’s important to remain fully compliant when dealing with officers in South Carolina.

3. Is Resisting Arrest a Felony?

There are varying degrees of resisting arrest. Felony resisting arrest can occur when you purposely injure or wound an officer, or resist using a deadly weapon.

4. Is Resisting Arrest a Misdemeanor?

If the charge results from you fleeing from officers without putting up a fight, it’s likely to be classified as a misdemeanor resisting arrest. If you put up a fight or use any sort of weapon, felony charges are likely to be filed.

5. What Is Resisting Arrest Without Violence?

This is covered under section 16-9-320 part (A) in the South Carolina Code:

Non-violent resisting an officer involves knowingly and willfully opposing, fleeing, or otherwise avoiding arrest without using nonviolent means. This is typically the charge when a person is being willfully non-compliant — in other words, ignoring the commands and directives from parties that they know to be members of law enforcement.

This is also the most likely charge that arises whenever a police chase occurs, no matter what the original reason for arrest may be. Whether on foot or in a vehicle, fleeing is considered resisting arrest without violence and will result in a misdemeanor tacked onto potential other charges from the incident.

It should be noted that some states will charge a person with resisting arrest when they knowingly prevent an officer from doing their job, even if no arrest is being made. In South Carolina, this is classified as obstruction, which is a different criminal charge.

6. What Is Resisting Arrest with Violence?

Resisting arrest without violence goes into effect when harm or in some cases, attempted harm is done to the officer involved, and is detailed in two different sections of the South Carolina Code.

First, resisting arrest with violence but without what the state considers a “deadly weapon” is usually used when you are combative or otherwise physically resistant to arrest in a way that does harm to the officer. Usually, without the presence of a weapon, there either has to be a physical injury or the unmistakable attempt to do harm to the officer. This is detailed in section 16-9-320 part (B) of the state code.

Resisting arrest with violence plus a deadly weapon is any time a person resists an arresting officer by using a weapon to assault or attempt to assault them. This is detailed under a different section of the South Carolina Code: 16-3-625.

7. What Are the Penalties for Resisting Arrest?

There are no mandatory minimum sentences for any degree of resisting arrest, but charges will typically carry either a jail/prison sentence, a fine, or both. Since resisting arrest implies that a person resisted when officers attempted to arrest them for another reason, these charges would be added on in any potential court hearings, and penalties would be decided upon conviction.

8. What is the Sentence for Resisting Arrest?

Sentencing guidelines for resisting arrest are loose and vary based on the extenuating circumstances and discretion of the judge, but as a general rule, here are the likely penalties for each degree of resisting arrest:

Charge Classification Fine? Jail? Sentencing
Resisting Arrest without Violence Misdemeanor $500-1,000 Up to 1 year Could be fine AND jail
Resisting Arrest with Violence Felony $1,000-10,000 Up to 10 years Could be fine AND jail
Resisting Arrest with a Deadly Weapon Felony N/A 2-10 years Harsher penalties for subsequent offenses

9. Is Resisting Arrest Considered a “Violent Crime”?

In South Carolina, some crimes are considered to be especially violent, giving them harsher sentencing requirements. Resisting arrest, even when the arresting officer is injured, is not considered a violent crime.

10. Can Resisting Arrest Charges Be Expunged?

There are three circumstances in which a charge for resisting arrest can be expunged, according to the state of South Carolina. Unfortunately, if convicted of resisting arrest, you can’t have the charge expunged, but if you are tried and found not guilty, the charge is dismissed, or the prosecution decides not to take it to trial, it can be expunged from your record.

Always Seek Legal Advice

Because of the fact that the validity and degree of an resisting arrest charge is often up to the discretion of the officers involved, it’s important to hire representation that will protect your best interests in the event that you’re charged with this offense.

Contact the Kent Collins Law Firm to learn more about the implications of your case and how to ensure that your interests will be protected in and out of court.

Contact us, today, at 803-808-0905 to set up a consultation. You can also fill out our online contact form, and we’ll be in touch with you.

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