It is a crime in Nevada to resist public officers when they are trying to arrest you or carry out any of their other duties. And if you use a weapon, assault or batter the officers, the penalties can carry years of prison and hefty fines.
Keep reading to learn the laws and penalties for resisting arrest by a public officer in Nevada and how our Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers may be able to help get your charges dismissed.
The legal definition of resisting arrest in Las Vegas, Nevada, occurs when someone "willfully resists, delays or obstructs a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge any legal duty of his or her office." In other words, it's illegal to try to stop a cop from carrying out their legal duties, including making arrests.
Typical behavior that counts as resisting arrest in Clark County includes:
- trying to flee when a cop places you under arrest,
- not staying still when a cop tries to handcuff you
- trying to take the officer's weapons, or
- verbally cursing at officers if they're trying to talk with you or give you an order.
But if you use or try to use physical force against them, then you may be charged with the separate crime of assault and battery on a police officer in Nevada as well.
Being accused of resisting arrest in Nevada does not mean you'll definitely be convicted of it. The state has the burden of proving that you committed the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, and often their evidence is lacking. A few common defenses used in these kinds of cases include the following:
- Lack of intent. You can't be found guilty of resisting a public /police officer if you didn't intentionally try to obstruct the officer. If, for example, you were acting out of an automatic, physical reflex or were suffering from an ailment that caused you to convulse, your attorney may be able to show that you did not act willfully.
- Lack of resistance. Perhaps in the heat of the moment the officer misconstrued your actions as resistance when they really weren't: Simply being rude or sarcastic to an officer while he is trying to arrest you is not a crime. Eye-witnesses or video footage of the incident could help show that what the officer believed was resistance didn't amount to anything illegal.
- Self-defense. You can use self-defense in Nevada against the police if they use unreasonable physical force on you. An example is when a cop tries to beat you to get you to reveal information. However, you must respond with only "reasonable" force in order for the self-defense to be lawful.
- Illegal arrest. If a cop arrests you without a legal basis, then the arrestee cannot be convicted for resisting arrest. Cops lack a legal basis to conduct an arrest when they don't have probable cause to believe that you committed a crime or if they didn't have an arrest warrant.
The punishment for violating the Las Vegas crime of resisting arrest gets worse if a weapon is involved. And if the arrestee tries to hit the officer, they can also be charged with the separate crimes of assaulting or battering a police officer in Nevada.
Someone convicted of resisting a police officer without a weapon faces only misdemeanor penalties in Nevada, which include:
- up to six months in jail, and/or
- up to $1,000 in fines
If the arrestee allegedly uses a firearm or tries to take the cop's firearm while resisting an arrest, the judge may impose a Nevada category C felony sentence including:
- one to five years in prison, and
- maybe a fine of up to $10,000
Weapons that are not firearms
If the arrestee allegedly uses a weapon that is not a firearm or tries to take the cop's weapons while resisting an arrest, the judge may order a Nevada category D felony sentence carrying:
- one to four years in prison, and
- maybe a fine of up to $5,000
Assaulting a police officer
An assault is like an attempted battery-an example is throwing a punch that doesn't end up touching anyone. If someone assaults a police officer while resisting arrest, they may face additional charges for the Nevada crime of assault on a police officer:
- If no deadly weapon is used, assaulting a police officer is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada carrying up to one year in jail and/or up to a $2,000 fine.
- If a deadly weapon is used, assaulting a police officer is a category B felony in Nevada carrying one to six years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine.
- If the assault is committed by a parolee or probationer without a deadly weapon, assaulting a police officer is a category B felony in Nevada carrying one to four years in prison and maybe up to a $5,000 fine.
- And if the assault is committed by a parolee or probationer with a deadly weapon, assaulting a police officer is a category B felony carrying one to four years in prison and maybe up to a $5,000 fine.
Battering a police officer
Battery is the unlawful use of physical force on someone else, such as punching. If someone batters a police officer while resisting arrest, they may face additional charges for the Las Vegas crime of battery on a police officer:
- If it does not result in substantial bodily harm, battering a police officer is a gross misdemeanor carrying up to 364 days in jail and/or up to a $2,000 fine in Clark County.
- If it does result in substantial bodily harm in Nevada, battering a police officer is a category B felony carrying imprisonment for two to ten years and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
Call us if you've been arrested . . . .
If you're facing charges for any offense in or around Clark County, call our Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free phone meeting today. Our goal is to do everything possible to get your charges reduced to a lesser crime or dismissed so your criminal record stays clean.
Also see our article on the Nevada crime of felony eluding police causing death or injury.
To learn about California resisting arrest law, go to our article on California resisting arrest law.