You should never resist an officer’s attempt to bring you into custody, even if you do not believe the arrest is warranted. Resisting Arrest is illegal under SC Code Section 16-9-320 and Section 16-3-625.

South Carolina’s criminal court system deals out harsh penalties for resisting law enforcement. Besides the immediate penalties of possible fines and jail time, you’ll have a criminal record.

If you are facing a criminal charge for resisting arrest or resisting a law enforcement officer, a criminal defense attorney can help you fight this charge.

Your best chance is to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. Until you do, educate yourself about South Carolina’s approach to resisting arrest violations.

The Charge: 3 Types of Resisting Arrest in SC

SC Code of Laws describes three types of opposing or resisting law enforcement officers and resisting arrest.

1. Resisting Arrest:

This charge describes a situation in which you resisted the officer’s orders, but you did not harm the officer in any way. This charge is classified as a misdemeanor.

2. Resisting Arrest with Violence

The second type of resisting a law enforcement officer describes a scenario in which you both resisted the officer’s demands and did harm to the officer. This charge is considering a Felony. See below for the penalties this charge carries.

3. Resisting Arrest with a Deadly Weapon)

This charge describes a situation in which you resist an arrest — yours or someone else’s — with a deadly weapon, such as a gun or a knife.

Similar to assault and battery charges, you don’t have to use or be in possession of a deadly weapon to receive this charge. Just claiming that you have a weapon is enough for law enforcement to add this charge to your indictment.

Key points from SC law on resisting arrest

Specific criteria apply in cases involving resistance to law enforcement. If these conditions do not apply in your case, then you and your lawyer may have an opportunity to fight the charges against you.

“Knowingly or willfully”

Your resistance to a police officer’s demands or an arrest must be intentional, not accidental. You need to have known and understood what the police officer was asking of you, and you must have made a conscious decision not to comply.

“Law enforcement officer”

Another condition of the charge is that you knew that the person making demands or making the arrest was a law enforcement officer. In most cases, law enforcement officers have to make themselves known in some way, such as declaring their identity as a police officer.

However, the resisting law enforcement charge applies in some cases in which you reasonably should have known a police officer was attempting to make an arrest. The expectation is that if a “reasonable person” would recognize the individual as a cop, then you should too. Examples include if the individual was wearing a police uniform or displaying a badge.


To be charged with the second type of opposing or resisting law enforcement, you must have harmed a police officer in some way. The law does not specify exactly how, so the solicitor has some leeway in accusing that you wounded a law enforcement official.

For example, suppose you threw a stack of papers at a police officer and he or she suffered a paper cut as a result. It’s unlikely that incident would escalate your charge to type two. However, if you hit a police officer over the head with a ream of paper and knocked him or her out, then you probably would receive the more serious criminal charge.

Penalties for Resisting Arrest

The consequences of a resisting arrest conviction start out harsh and become severe if you harm or threaten a law enforcement official. Your sentence may include a fine, jail time or both. See the charts below for a breakdown of the charges and their associated penalties.

1. Resisting Arrest

Classification Jail Time Fine Notes
Misdemeanor Up to 1 year $500 to $1,000 Sentence may be a fine, jail or both

2. Resisting Arrest with Violence

Classification Jail Time Fine Notes
Felony Up to 10 years $1,000 to $10,000 Sentence may be a fine, jail or both

3. Resisting Arrest with a Deadly Weapon

Classification Jail Time Notes
Felony Between 2 to 10 years Special rules for first, second and subsequent offenses

See SC Code of Laws 16-3-625 for more details about the special rules.

Judicial discretion

The charts above are sentencing guidelines for the criminal charges of opposing law enforcement and resisting arrest. The judge overseeing your case has the freedom to decide the appropriate punishment for you within those guidelines, depending on the facts of your case.

Talk to a lawyer and resist the charges against you

If you’re facing charges for opposing law enforcement or resisting arrest, don’t let the State decide your future. Get an experienced defense attorney to fight on your side as you go through the criminal court system.

Our team at Kulp and Elliott has years of experience representing people like you in criminal cases. We’d love to talk to you about your situation. Schedule a no strings attached free consultation with one of our attorneys. Just call 843-853-3310 or send us an email.

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