Resisting Arrest, Public Affray Defense Lawyers in Albuquerque
New Mexico Defense Attorneys Fighting Charges of Public Affray and Resisting Arrest
Resisting arrest and public affray are two unique criminal charges which are so often thought of as minor offenses, but can in fact run the risk of quickly turning into felony convictions. If you have been charged with either resisting arrest or public affray, it is important to contact an experienced Albuquerque resisting arrest, public affray defense attorney as soon as possible to begin going over your case. Both public affray and resisting arrest are charges which disrupt the peace.
Resisting Arrest in New Mexico
Resisting arrest occurs when a person interferes with a law enforcement officer attempting to perform a lawful arrest. It is defined under New Mexico law as one of the following charges:
- Knowingly obstructing, resisting or opposing any officer attempting to serve an order;
- Intentionally fleeing, attempting to evade or evading an officer when the person has knowledge the officer is attempting to apprehend or arrest him;
- Willfully refusing to bring a vehicle to a stop when given a visual or audible signal to stop (by hand, voice, emergency light, flashing light, siren, or other) by a uniformed officer in a marked police vehicle; or
- Resisting or abusing an officer in the lawful discharge of their duties.
Resisting arrest is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
Public Affray vs. Battery
New Mexico law defines “public affray” as two or more persons who voluntarily or by agreement engage in any fight in a public place, to the disturbance of others. Public affray is a petty misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and up to a $500 fine.
Public affray can quickly get out of hand and lead to a battery or assault charge, depending on the situation, which can result in a much higher punishment range. However, public affray on its own is distinguishable from battery because it involves two people who both voluntarily engage in a fight. Battery could instead occur if one person is hitting another and that person is retaliating in self-defense.
Each charge has additional penalties such as potential probation, community service, counseling, and a recorded conviction if you are found guilty of the crime. You do not want any crime to go on your permanent record, much less something so minor which could have been avoided if you had spoken with an experienced public affray defense attorney.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Will I be acquitted of resisting arrest if the police officer used excessive force to arrest me?
Perhaps. If the officer’s use of force was excessive and you were forced to defend yourself against unjustified bodily harm, you can plead self-defense. The general rule is that a police officer must use reasonable force, and if he sues excessive force, you are entitled to resist with reasonable force.
Is self-defense a valid defense to a public affray charge?
Yes, it is, as long as you did not consent to the fight in the first place. Public affray charges are appropriate only when two people agree to fight. If you were attacked against your will, you may even be able to seek battery charges against your attacker.
Can I be convicted of resisting arrest for fighting a police dog?
Yes, if the dog was being used to arrest you at the time. A police dog is considered a police officer, and you can even be charged with assaulting a police officer for assaulting a police dog. The normal rules on excessive force still apply, however.
Can I be convicted of resisting arrest for “going limp” to make the arrest more difficult?
Yes, you can be. Just about anything that you do to make the arrest more difficult for the officer can be classified as “resisting arrest”, with a few narrow exceptions involving your constitutional rights.
What are some defenses against a resisting arrest charge?
Some of the more common defenses are:
- Self-defense in the face of excessive force (see above for details).
- Your “resistance” consisted of constitutionally protected speech.
- Your “resistance” was an involuntary reaction (you lash out blindly while being awakened for a DWI arrest, for example).
- You resisted a civil rights violation by the police officer (racial profiling, for example)
Can I be convicted of resisting arrest even if the original charge I was being arrested for is dismissed?
Yes, you can be. You are required to cooperate with a lawful arrest even if you are not guilty of the crime you are being arrested for. If you feel the arrest was made in bad faith or without proper grounds, it is wise to take that up with the judicial system later, rather than resist arrest at the time.
Do the police need a warrant to arrest me in the first place?
Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Although the general rule is that the police do need a warrant to arrest you, this rule has become riddled with exceptions. In most cases, the police need a warrant to arrest you for a misdemeanor, unless the officer actually saw you commit the crime.
Can I plea bargain down a resisting arrest charge to a lesser charge?
Perhaps. If you were charged with resisting arrest while an officer was attempting to remove you from someone else’s property, for example, you might try to plea bargain the charge down to trespassing. This might happen if you are arrested in a political demonstration, for example.
Albuquerque Public Affray, Resisting Arrest Attorneys
If you have been arrested for either public affray or resisting arrest, you understand how minor these offenses can seem. However, do not get too confident in your own defense strategy without first speaking to an experienced criminal defense attorney. A misdemeanor conviction can ruin your criminal record and may impact your future career choices and family obligations. Our attorneys collectively have 22 years of experience in handling these types of cases and can guide you toward the best defense strategy. You do not want to ruin your criminal record on a charge which is so small simply by refusing to consult with an attorney by calling us at 505-200-2982.