Sometimes, officers use "resisting arrest" as a catchall for any behavior that makes an investigation or arrest more difficult. It may be hard to believe that responding slowly, or reluctantly to an officer's general commands could lead to a resisting arrest charge. But it's true, sometimes an arrest doesn't need to be in progress to be charged with this crime.
That doesn't mean that an officer may interpret any situation where you're not doing exactly what you're being told to do right at that instant as resisting arrest. Let's take a closer look at the law and possible defenses if charged with this crime.
Elements of the Crime
As a general definition, a defendant resists arrest when they intentionally prevent an officer from making a lawful arrest or discharging any other official duty, and the person creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to the officer or anyone else, or acts in a way that justifies use of force to overcome the resistance.
It's important to understand that some state laws prohibit any action that impedes an officer. This means that a resisting arrest charge can be filed against you without any prior attempt to place you under arrest. In other states an arrest must be in progress for a resisting charge to be filed against you.
To be found guilty, the burden is on the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt all the elements of the crime. This can include:
Actions Commonly Seen as Resisting Arrest
Resisting arrest generally involves situations where a person obstructs, resists or delays a law enforcement during the performance of their duty. Any action a person takes that impedes an officer, even standing their way, could qualify. Actions commonly seen as committing this crime include:
Penalties and Punishment for Resisting Arrest
Resisting arrest can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts of your case. The penalties and punishment will be determined by the facts of your case and how it's charged.
Penalties if Charged as a Misdemeanor
Penalties if Charged as a Felony
Possible Defenses to Resisting Arrest
It can be difficult to determine when someone actually resisted or obstructed an arrest because there's no clear legal standard. Officers can rush their judgment and arrest who has not immediately obeyed their orders. You have several possible defenses against this charge including:
Charged with Resisting Arrest? A Defense Attorney Can Help
There's often a fine line between guilt and innocence with a charge of resisting arrest. Many of these cases can be defended with careful investigation and planning. That's why you need someone on your side who can craft a winning defense strategy and protect your interests. If you're facing criminal charges, an experienced criminal defense attorney will help you get the best outcome possible.