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Elements of resisting arrest and possible defenses

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | Violent Crimes |

While arresting a suspect is a routine process for police, the act of placing a suspect under arrest is not always simple or procedural. At times, a suspect may not cooperate or create challenges. If the suspect attempts to flee or fights apprehension, they could end up facing additional charges.

Resisting arrest can be a complex allegation, as it could involve the use of force and a question of whether this level of force was acceptable and lawful. If you are accused of resisting arrest, it is important to fully understand the circumstances that led to these charges, the potential penalties attached to them and your defense options.

Elements of the crime

A charge for resisting arrest typically includes conduct by the individual that obstructs, resists or delays law enforcement while they are performing their official duties. With regards to the crime, there are four elements to this crime.

First, there must be an intent to hinder, delay or prevent a law enforcement officer from making an arrest. Next, there needs to be the refusal to stop at the request of law enforcement. Third, physical force is used against the officer. Finally, their conduct must create a substantial risk of bodily injury to the law enforcement officer.

Defense options

Defense options for a resisting arrest charge is dependent on the situation and the factors involved. First, the accused could provide evidence to the contrary. Whether it is video footage or witness testimony, this is used to prove that the suspect did not resist arrest.

Next, the accused could claim self-defense. This often relies on proving that the officer used excessive force and that it was beyond the reasonable force needed for the officer to make an arrest. Another defense is asserting an unlawful arrest, which is a claim that the arrest was unlawful or based on false information. Then, after the officer attempted to unlawfully detain them, they resisted or fled. Note that this is not a viable defense if the accused used force or created a risk of bodily injury.

Finally, the accused could claim mistaken identity. This defense relies on the individual having a reasonable belief that the officer was not actual law enforcement. This may occur in situations where the officer is wearing plain clothes or was off duty when the arrest occurred.

A resisting arrest charge can be a difficult defense to navigate, especially when other charges are involved. A legal professional can help you navigate the defense process and ensure you are aware of your legal rights.