RDO Resisting, Delaying, or Obstructing an Officer in North Carolina 14-233

June 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Resisting, Delaying, or Obstructing an Officer (also referred to as RDO) in North Carolina is punished as a Class 2 Misdemeanor under the North Carolina General Statute 14-223. This is a commonly charged crime in North Carolina and Wake County because it covers a very wide array of behavior. The general idea behind this crime is to outlaw the willful acts of a citizen that are meant to hinder a police officer’s duty or investigation. The state legislator by enacting this statute (14-223) attempts, and succeeds in many ways, to give police agencies across the state broader power and ease of investigating crime and enforcing state laws.

The North Carolina General Statute describes RDO as; if any person shall willfully and unlawfully resist, delay or obstruct a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge a duty of his office. The NC General Statute 14-233 is broad, both in the legal interpretation (Scope of the law) and its legislative intent. Even though the statute is broad, the courts have ruled that it is not unconstitutionally vague.

Because RDO 14-233 is a Class 2 Misdemeanor, a convicted defendant of this crime can be punished up to 60 days of active jail time. Because of the risk of active jail time and potential harm to your criminal record, employment status, education status and social status, you should always consult a criminal defense lawyer if you are charged with RDO. If you have been charged in Wake County or the Triangle consider contacting The Gurney Law Firm for an evaluation of your case. Because there are many complexities and grey areas of this charge it is wise to explore your options with a Raleigh Criminal Lawyer.

This charge, even though it seems very simple, can bring about very complex issues with Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Association, Property Rights and other important liberties protected under the United States Constitution and the North Carolina Constitution. This charge can bring about the intersection of your constitutional rights and the states police power – interest and ability in investigating and arresting.

Why is RDO such a commonly charged crime in North Carolina?

The charge of RDO is brought against people in all different segments and backgrounds of society in large part because the statute is vague in its description of what constitutes “Resisting, Delaying, or Obstructing an Officer.” The North Carolina General Statute describes RDO as – If any person shall willfully and unlawfully resist, delay or obstruct a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge a duty of his office. Just by the language of the statute, 14-233, it is hard to narrow down exactly what behavior constitutes RDO.

Is RDO the same charge as “Resisting Arrest?”

Different states will define and name similar laws in different ways. Some states have a law referred to as “Resisting Arrest” or something similar. For many practical purposes these types of laws cover the same category of unlawful behavior when interacting with an officer. However, North Carolina’s version of the “Resisting Arrest” type of law is broader both in the legal interpretation (Scope of the law) and legislative intent. In North Carolina, RDO covers not just the arrest but also the investigation by law enforcement (this is covered by the “…delays, or obstructs” portion of the statute.)

Is it illegal to curse at a police officer in NC? Can I question a police officer in NC? Is it illegal to lie to a police officer in NC?

This is the above mentioned intersection of Constitutional Rights and the State’s interest in protecting and helping police officers in arrests and investigations. The United States Constitution protects your 1st Amendment right to Freedom of Speech. But there are limits to this right (Consider the age old example of yelling fire in a crowded movie theater.)

Putting aside all the constitutional debate and discussion (which I would love to write about and talk about all day long!)…. It is important to know that you can absolutely question and criticize an officer while he is performing his duty when done in an orderly manner and it does not resist, delay or obstruct. Actually, this type of act is a healthy check on the states police power and helps our democratic society operate better. This does not protect speech considered to be disorderly cursing and threatening langue directed toward the officer. And it is illegal to lie to an officer while he is performing his duty (You can’t give the officer a false name).

Do I have to give my name and social security number to a police officer in North Carolina?

It depends… but generally under current North Carolina Law, a person under certain circumstances is not required to provide an investigating police officer with their name and/or social security number. Not providing this information does not appear to be covered by the RDO Statute.

Is it illegal to run from the police in North Carolina?

It depends… mainly on the conduct of the police officer. A citizen always has the right to resist an unlawful arrest. Also, the courts have ruled that running from an officer is not RDO when the officer could not articulate reasonable suspicion to stop that individual. If no reasonable suspicion of a crime exists during a police encounter, then the meeting is considered consensual and any flight from the stop cannot constitute resisting an officer.

If you have been charged with RDO in Raleigh or Wake County you should contact The Gurney Law Firm. Eric Gurney is a former Wake County Magistrate Judge and founded the criminal defense law firm in Raleigh, NC to protect the rights of those accused of crimes in Wake County. The Gurney Law Firm handles misdemeanors and felonies charged in Wake County and expungement of your criminal record across the state. Please remember that the content on this site is not meant to be legal advice and that all criminal cases are different. That is why it is important to have a criminal defense attorney review your case and explain your options.