Ottawa Resisting Arrest Lawyer
Resisting arrest and obstructing law enforcement are charges that the Crown and the Courts take seriously. Any threat to police authority when they are engaged in official activity can result in a charge of resisting arrest or obstructing law enforcement. If physical force is used to resist or obstruct, additional charges for assault might be filed.
Because prosecutors are dedicated to supporting law enforcement personnel and their work, resisting and obstructing are charges that require the help of experienced criminal defence lawyers to navigate you through the intricacies of the arrest, pre-trial, and trial procedures.
The skilled Ottawa resisting arrest criminal defence lawyers of Auger Hollingsworth are ready to help you through the criminal justice process. Call now for a free consultation.
What is Resisting Arrest?
Physically resisting or obstructing a peace or public officer who is trying to detain or arrest you or another person can result in a charge of resisting arrest. It is the lesser charge, although related to obstructing a peace officer or assaulting a peace officer. A momentary emotional outburst during an encounter with police can change your life forever.
Criminal Code section 129 defines the crime of resisting arrest. Everyone who:
- resists or wilfully obstructs a public officer or peace officer in the execution of his duty or any person lawfully acting in aid of such an officer,
- omits, without reasonable excuse, to assist a public officer or peace officer in the execution of his duty in arresting a person or in preserving the peace, after having reasonable notice that he is required to do so, or
- resists or wilfully obstructs any person in the lawful execution of a process against lands or goods or in making a lawful distress or seizure,
is guilty of
- an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or
- an offence punishable on summary conviction.
The legal focus is on what constitutes resisting and who is covered by the statute, i.e., who is a peace officer entitled to such deference in the discharge of his duties.
Resisting goes far beyond wilful and intentional physical and verbal resistance to arrest. Acts of omission can also be charged. Under the provisions of the Criminal Code anyone who fails, without a reasonable excuse, to assist a peace officer in the execution of official business might be indicted. However, passive behaviour or merely being uncooperative is not a chargeable crime.
These are the categories of peace officers whose authority cannot be interfered with while they are pursuing their lawful, official duties:
- Police officers
- Canadian Forces officers
- Customs officers
Types of Obstruction to Justice Charges
Police Obstruction is defined as restricting law enforcement officers from carrying out their duties. This charge encompasses more behaviours than physical resisting and covers aspects of the judicial process.
Obstruction to justice might include these behaviours:
- Wilfully obstructing law enforcement/public officers from executing their duties
- Failing/omitting to assist public officers in executing their duties without valid justification
- Obstructing any person in the execution of a process against goods or lands
- Wilfully attempting to obstruct, defeat, or pervert the execution of justice
- Accepting a fee from a person who has been released from custody or anyone associated with such a person, while acting as a surety
- Attempting to dissuade or dissuading a person from giving evidence by using bribes, threats, or other corrupt means
- Attempting to influence or influencing a juror by using bribes, threats, or other corrupt means
- Accepting or obtaining bribes, or using other corrupt means to abstain from providing evidence, or to refrain from acting justly while acting in the capacity of a juror
Bail Process for Resisting Arrest
Defendants detained for resisting arrest are often released with a promise to appear, a document setting forth the charges and the dates to appear in court for a first appearance. However, if the defendant has a prior criminal record, or if other charges are included with the resisting arrest, especially if violence or a weapon was used, then officers will detain the defendant with a bail hearing within 24-hours of arrest.
During that time period when the defendant has been brought to jail, family members cannot make contact or visit, and police will not give out any information about the detained defendant. Only a lawyer can get that information and make that visit. That’s why you should contact an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer immediately so that your family knows where you are and the circumstances of your detention.
Penalties for Resisting Arrest
The penalties for resisting arrest are:
- A jail sentence of up to 2 years
- Up to 3 years’ probation
- A fine of up to $5,000 for lesser offences, and up to $20,000 for serious ones
- A ban on owning/possessing weapons for up to 10 years
Any of these factors might cause the court to impose the maximum sentence rather than a lesser one:
- The defendant used significant force in resisting arrest
- The defendant was resisting for the benefit of a criminal organization
- The defendant has prior criminal convictions
First offenders are not typically sentenced to jail time. Alternative sentences include a discharge, which is a finding of guilt without a criminal conviction. A court might also just fine the first-time offender and impose a period of probation.
The complications emanating from a criminal conviction are monumental and can last a lifetime: inability to secure a job or professional license, and for immigrants, deportation. That’s why it is essential to your future to secure the services of experienced and skilled criminal defence lawyers who know the Ottawa players: police, prosecutors, judges, and probation departments. That knowledge and skill is needed to navigate the criminal justice system with the best outcomes.
Defences for Resisting Arrests
A skilled criminal defence lawyer will develop defences to the charge of resisting arrest after an examination of the facts and physical evidence, and an understanding of the witnesses and their capacity to speak. Here is just a sampling of what defences might be raised to such a charge:
Factual Defences: An evaluation of the evidence might reveal that the defendant did not know that the peace or public officer was a government official trying to conduct official business. This is particularly true for undercover police officers and government officials who were not wearing uniforms or visible badges, and whose claim to authority seemed incredible in these circumstances.
Another factual defence might arise from a case of mistaken identity where identification is made through surveillance videos or witness identification after the fact. Eyewitness identification is especially unclear when the witness did not previously know the defendant and was suddenly observing an unexpected incident.
Lack of Intent: In order to convict, the resistance must be wilful and intentional. Therefore, mistaken or unintentional resistance is not a crime.
Underlying unlawful arrest: The underlying arrest must be lawful in order to convict a defendant of resisting arrest. Therefore, if peace or public officers overstep their authority or do not properly identify themselves, charges should be dropped.
Violation of constitutional rights: Your rights are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom and police officers must conduct themselves within these constraints when arresting or gathering evidence.
Contact our Ottawa Resisting Arrest Lawyers Today
Choosing an Ottawa resisting arrest lawyer can help preserve your rights and defences to criminal charges. At Auger Hollingsworth, we offer a free consultation session during which you can assess our lawyers and we can assess the strength of the prosecution’s claims. During this free consultation, we will:
- Review the criminal charges or the request for appearance or subpoena for documents, and any police reports and other documents.
- We will listen to your story and map out the areas for investigation, begin to compile a list of witnesses, and compose the various strategies the facts and law offer.
- We will provide you with an estimate of the cost of legal services.
- If we are unable to provide you with a defence, we will refer you to other counsel.
Call (613) 699-8192 today to schedule a free consultation with the knowledgeable Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.