NRS 199.280 is the Nevada law that prohibits resisting arrest and obstructing police from carrying out their duties. Resisting police is a felony if firearms or other dangerous weapons are used. Otherwise the offense is treated as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines of up to $1,000.00.Common defenses are that the defendant lacked willfulness or acted in self-defense, or that the arrest was illegal.The statute states:
A person who, in any case or under any circumstances not otherwise specially provided for, willfully resists, delays or obstructs a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge any legal duty of his or her office shall be punished [for resisting a public officer]:
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is resisting a public officer in Nevada?
- 2. Can I go to jail for resisting arrest?
- 3. How do I fight NRS 199.280 charges?
- 4. Is resisting a public officer a deportable offense?
- 5. When can I seal my record?
1. What is resisting a public officer in Nevada?
“Resisting a public officer” is trying to stop police from carrying out their legal duties, including making arrests. Examples of NRS 199.280 violations include:
- Trying to flee when police place the person under arrest,
- Not staying still when an arresting officer tries to handcuff the suspect, or
- Trying to take the police’s weapons1
Note that an act of resistance can quickly cross the line into the more serious crime of battery on a police officer (NRS 200.481) if unlawful physical force is used. Examples include punching, kicking, pushing, throwing things at, or even spitting on the police.
2. Can I go to jail for resisting arrest?
The penalties for violating NRS 199.280 depend on whether the defendant used a dangerous weapon or took – or tried to take – the officer’s weapon.
|Type of weapon involved
||Nevada punishment for resisting arrest
|Dangerous weapon other than a firearm.||Category D felony:
|Firearm.||Category C felony:
Committing battery on police while they are carrying out their official duties has stiffer penalties than resisting police, especially if it involves a weapon:
|Battery on an officer||Nevada penalties|
|No deadly weapon is used||Gross misdemeanor:
|No deadly weapon is used, but there is:
||Category B felony:
|A deadly weapon is used, but there is:
||Category B felony:
|A deadly weapon is used, and there is either:
||Category B felony:
3. How do I fight NRS 199.280 charges?
Four common defenses used to fight criminal charges of resisting peace officers – including resisting arrest – include:
- The defendant did not act willfully. A key element of NRS 199.280 charges is that the defendant acted intentionally. Perhaps the defendant was acting out of an automatic, physical reflex or was suffering from an ailment that caused him/her to convulse. Or perhaps someone else pushed the defendant, causing him/her to bump into the police in a way they misconstrued as resistance. Unless the D.A. can show beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant’s resistance was willful, then no Nevada crime occurred.
- Nothing the defendant did qualified as resistance, delay, or obstruction. Perhaps in the heat of the moment, the officer misread the defendant’s lawful actions as combative: Simply being rude or sarcastic to law enforcement while they are doing their job may not be prudent, but it is not a crime.
- The defendant acted in lawful self-defense. People may fight back in self-defense if police are using excessive, unlawful physical force on them. However, the force must be reasonable and proportional in order for self-defense to be legal.
- The arrest was illegal. If a police officer makes an illegal arrest, then the arrestee should not be convicted for resisting it. A police department lacks a legal basis to conduct an arrest when they do not have probable cause to believe that the arrestee committed a crime or if they did not have an arrest warrant.
Depending on the facts of the case, typical evidence defense attorneys rely on to fight resisting arrest charges may include surveillance video, eyewitness testimony, and medical records.
4. Is resisting a public officer a deportable offense?
Resisting arrest or otherwise obstructing public officers with a deadly weapon is arguably a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMTs). And if the deadly weapon was a gun, it also considered an aggravated felony. Both CIMTs and aggravated felonies are deportable offenses under immigration and criminal law.4
Non-citizens charged with violating NRS 199.280 should consult with an experienced attorney. If the lawyer can plea bargain the charge down to a misdemeanor or dismissal, then the defendant may be able to remain in the U.S.
5. When can I seal my record?
Resisting arrest convictions can be sealed eventually, but the waiting period depends on the category of crime the defendant was convicted of:
|NRS 199.280 conviction||Waiting time to get a record seal|
|Category C felony||5 years after the case closes.|
|Category D felony||5 years after the case closes.|
|Misdemeanor||1 year after the case closes.|
|No conviction (dismissal of charge)||No wait.4|
Our law firm is based in Las Vegas, NV, but we represent clients throughout the state, including Reno.
In California? Read our article about Resisting Arrest Laws (PC 148).
In Colorado? Read our article about Resisting Arrest Laws (CRS 18-8-103).
- Nevada Revised Statute 199.280 – Resisting Public Officer; see Dumaine v. State, 103 Nev. 121, 734 P.2d 1230 (1987).
- Same; NRS 193.130.
- NRS 200.481; Rosas v. State, 122 Nev. 1258, 147 P.3d 1101, 122 Nev. Adv. Rep. 106 (2006) (resisting a public officer is a lesser-included offense of battery upon an officer).
- Matter of Logan, 17 I. & N. Dec. 367 (BIA 1980).
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.