Resisting Arrest and Obstructing Governmental Administration

An experienced New York City criminal defense lawyer is an important asset for anyone accused of "Resist Arrest."

Resisting Arrest is codified in New York Penal Code Section 205.30. It is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. As per statute, a person is guilty of Resisting Arrest when he "intentionally prevents or attempts to prevent a police officer or peace officer from effecting an authorized arrest of himself or another person."

Any act that is intended to prevent an authorized arrest can lead to a charge of Resisting Arrest. Something as simple as the flailing of an arm which makes it difficult to place handcuffs on the arrestee can lead to this charge. Police Officers are very quick to add this charge whenever they believe the person whom they are arresting is not "complying" with their orders.

Resisting Arrest is a prevalent charge. Despite this, there are several defenses. One defense is that the arrest itself was not "authorized." This means the police did not have probable cause to arrest the person in the first place. If the police did not have probable cause to make an arrest, then the government cannot sustain a conviction for Resisting Arrest.

In addition to Resisting Arrest, a person who is in an encounter with a police officer should also be aware of a charge of Obstructing Governmental Administration or "OGA" for short. There are two degrees for this charge. Obstructing Governmental Administration in its most basic form is OGA in the Second Degree. This is a class A misdemeanor which is a punishable by up to one year in jail. As per statute, there are many ways to commit this crime, but the most common way a person is when a person "...intentionally obstructs, impairs, or perverts the administration of law or other government function..." A person is guilty of OGA in the First Degree when he commits the crime of OGA in the Second degree "by means of interfering with a telecommunications system thereby causing serious physical injury to another person." This is a class E felony which is punishable by up to 4 years in prison.

People typically find themselves charged with Obstructing Governmental Administration in situations where they try to prevent a police officer from arresting another person. Typically this happens in situations where people are protesting or are otherwise refusing to comply with police orders.

Here is a common example of an escalating police encounter where people end up getting arrested and charged with Resisting Arrest and Obstructing Governmental Administration: suppose a guy is playing the guitar in a subway station and he has an open guitar case with some money in it. Suppose further that he is not in compliance with the strict rules of how a performer must act. A police officer then approaches him and asks him for his identification. The person refuses. The officer then tells him if he doesn't leave immediately, the officer will arrest him. The person refuses to leave. The officer then attempts to place him under arrest for breaking the applicable Transit Rules and Regulations Law. He then refuses to comply with a request to put his hands behind his back so the officer can handcuff him. By refusing to comply with that order and by making it difficult for the officer to arrest him, he is going to be charged with Resisting Arrest. Meanwhile, a passerby who is appalled by the officers conduct tries to physically stop the officer from arresting the guitarist by placing herself in between the two. She will now be arrested and charged with Obstructing Governmental Administration. This situations is happening more and more and with the prevalence of camera phones, they are being captured on video more infrequently.

Resisting Arrest and Obstructing Governmental Administration are both crimes. However, good defense attorneys can and do frequently get these charges dismissed. If you, or a loved one, is accused of this crime, do not hesitate to contact John Buza for a free consultation.