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North Carolina Resisting Arrest Laws

As citizens and residents of the United States, we are afforded certain civil rights. These rights include protection from police misconduct, which can include false arrests and the use of excessive force. Regardless of these rights, however, it's generally not a good idea to resist an officer when he or she is arresting you. In fact, virtually all states have resisting arrest laws.

North Carolina's law that addresses resisting arrest is very broad, as it prohibits not only resisting an officer but also delaying and obstructing a police officer. The statute prohibits such actions not only when an officer is making an arrest, but also when performing any duties as a police officer. Further making the statute broad, is the fact that it doesn't provide details as to what exactly constitutes resisting, delaying, or obstructing an officer. Also of note, under Section 15A-401, a person isn't justified in using a deadly weapon or deadly force to resist an arrest by a police officer when the person knows (or has reason to know) it's a police officer trying to arrest him or her.

North Carolina Resisting Arrest Laws Overview

Below you will find key provisions of resisting arrest laws in North Carolina.


North Carolina General Statutes Section 14-223 (Resisting Officers)

What's Prohibited?

It's prohibited to wilfully and unlawfully resist, delay, or obstruct a police officer who is discharging (or attempting to discharge) a duty of his or her office.

Charges and Penalties

Violation of this statute is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 30 days of community punishment* (if there are no prior convictions). More detailed information about the guidelines for punishing those convicted of misdemeanors can be found in Section 15A-1340.20, et seq.

*North Carolina separates penalties into active, intermediate, and community punishment, which are defined as follows:

  • Active punishment requires imprisonment.
  • Intermediate punishment requires supervised probation.
  • Community punishment doesn't include active punishment or special probation.

Related Statute(s)

North Carolina General Statutes Section 15A-401 (Arrest by Law-Enforcement Officer)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

North Carolina Resisting Arrest Laws: Related Resources

For more information related to this topic, please click on the links below:

Charged under North Carolina's Resisting Arrest Laws? Talk to an Attorney

Resisting arrest is usually an added charge to the crime you were being arrested for in the first place. Conviction under North Carolina's criminal laws can land you in jail and end up on your permanent record, which can negatively impact your career. If you've been charged with resisting arrest in North Carolina, it's best to get in touch with a local criminal defense attorney to discuss the circumstances of your arrest and come up with a game plan to fight the charges.

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