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Virginia Court Rejects Defendant’s Claim that She Was Entitled to Resist Arrest Because Officer Was Trespassing

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2020 | Assault and Battery, Virginia Case Law

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Virginia assault case discussing whether there was sufficient evidence to sustain the defendant’s convictions. Ultimately, the court rejected the defendant’s arguments, affirming her convictions.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a police officer received a call from the defendant’s home. Upon arriving, the officer parked in the driveway. As he got out of the car, the officer could hear screaming. Moments later, the officer noticed several people standing on the porch, with the defendant in the doorway.

A man on the porch addressed the officer, explaining that he had lived at the home and wanted to get inside to get his belongings. The defendant began shouting that the man had “put his hands on her.” The officer walked up the porch and began to talk to the man. The defendant continued to yell and argue with the man. When the officer told her to stop yelling, she tried to shut the door. The officer put his foot in the threshold to prevent the door from closing.

This went on for a few minutes as the officer attempted to determine what had happened. Eventually, the defendant started screaming at the officer. The officer attempted to handcuff the defendant so he could continue his investigation, at which point the defendant began fighting with the officer, hitting him in the chest and arm.

The defendant was charged and convicted of assault and battery against a law enforcement officer. At the conclusion of the evidence, the defendant moved to set aside the verdict, arguing that there was insufficient evidence that she committed the offense. Specifically, she argued that by placing his foot in the door’s threshold, the officer was trespassing, and that she had the right to use reasonable force to remove him from her home.

The court rejected the defendant’s arguments. The court explained that a person can only use reasonable force to expel a trespasser if they first ask the trespasser to leave. Here, there was no evidence suggesting that the defendant asked the officer to leave before she slammed the door on his foot and subsequently began fighting with him. Thus, because the defendant committed the offense before asking the officer to leave, her argument failed.

Next, the defendant argued that her actions were permissible in that she was resisting an illegal arrest. However, the court disagreed, noting that the officer was not attempting to place her under arrest, but to detain her for the purposes of an official investigation. As a result, the court held the defendant’s actions were not justified.

Have You Been Charged with a Crime Against Law Enforcement?

If you have recently been charged with a Virginia resisting arrest offense, or another charge against law enforcement, contact the veteran criminal defense attorneys at Robinson Law, PLLC. At Robinson Law, we represent clients facing all types of misdemeanor and felony offenses, providing them with the aggressive, zealous representation that they deserve. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call 703-542-3616 today.