When state law enforcement suspects someone of a crime and decides to arrest them, they may attempt to resist. But is resisting arrest a felony? In general, yes, it is a crime to suppress an arrest.
Resisting an arrest is a form of obstruction of justice, a serious offense. The penalty for resisting arrest varies depending on the circumstances. But, it often results in imprisonment and a life-long criminal record.
In some cases, it may only fall under a misdemeanor offense. This classification is typically the case when the resistance does not use violence. Yet, it could still appear on the record. Additionally, some states have laws that make resisting arrest a felony, regardless of the circumstances.
If you face charges of resisting arrest, you must speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Here at Summit Defense, we can assist you in navigating the legal system and the entire process of your case. Call us at (866) 537-2584 or use our contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Law enforcement may classify any violent actions as “resisting arrest” or “obstructing police operations.” It could take the form of aggressively evading law enforcers, showing a nonviolent physical act, or attacking a police officer as he approaches carrying handcuffs.
Any act or exertion of physical force preventing enforcers from making a lawful arrest is punishable by the law. However, limitations and exemptions exist within this law, and many ways exist to refute such an accusation. One known defense is to argue that the arresting officer is acting unlawfully or out of a peace officer’s official authority.
Another thing to remember when charged with resisting arrest is that the arresting officer can only charge you once, even if several police officers attempted to take you into custody.
Different states may have their own legal context on what “resisting an arrest” means. In California, the state established the California Penal Code § 148(a), which outlines the state’s legislation about “resisting an arrest.” The prosecution must demonstrate the following to convict you under the law:
According to this legal statute, violators of this law could face a year of imprisonment or up to $1,000 penalty fines.
The prosecution must provide tangible proof of certain aspects of a resisting arrest, such as proof of causing physical injury, presence of a substantial risk, or evidence of passive resistance. Enumerated below are the elements of resisting arrest:
When all or most of these elements are proven by the court, the defendant can be charged with resisting arrest.
Different states may provide varying definitions of what they consider a resistance to arrest. In California, the scope of California Penal Code § 148(a) is not limited only to police officers. This law also extends to impeding an emergency medical technician (EMT) from carrying out his official duties.
When trialing a defendant for resisting an arrest, the prosecutor must demonstrate the following factors to solidify suspicion beyond a reasonable doubt:
Resisting arrest is a crime with a broad definition. The actions considered part of their “lawful duties” involve many tasks related to their line of work. They are not just limited to making an arrest.
If the peace officer uses excessive or unnecessary force while carrying out their lawful duty, they are not acting legally. In such circumstances, attempting to stop an officer from using excessive force would not constitute a resisting arrest.
Although resisting arrest is fairly self-explanatory behavior, the law also covers additional actions that you might not be aware of. The following are:
Many of these situations are typical during demonstrations and riots. It explains why so many people got accusations of resisting arrest even when they didn’t actually commit a crime.
The Misdemeanor Resisting Arrest Statute is stated in California Vehicle Code (CVC) § 2800.1. The provisions apply to anybody who “operates a motor vehicle with the intent to:
The statute requires willful or wanton disregard for safety in addition to all five different facts proven at trial. If the court finds the defendant guilty under CVC 2800.1, you may face sentences:
A judge may also impose additional requirements as punishment for the misdemeanor. The requirements imposed for misdemeanor resisting arrest include:
Law enforcement would be able to see any conviction for resisting arrest during the subsequent offense. This situation may make dealing with them very challenging.
You might face charges of resisting arrest if it turns out that you defied a legal arrest. It applies even if you believe it to be illegal. In certain areas, obstruction or disorderly conduct laws also cover resisting arrest.
Crimes involving resisting arrest can either be misdemeanors or felonies. Some states reserve heavier felony penalties for offenses involving people who act violently. They assign lesser misdemeanor fines for crimes involving no force.
First-time offenders typically face Class I Misdemeanor charges, and they will face up to one year sentence in county jail and a fine of $1,000. A Class IIIA Felony charge is for a second or subsequent violation and bears a maximum of three years of county jail time, 18 months of post-release supervision, or a $10,000 fine (or both).
If the suspect uses a deadly or dangerous weapon to resist arrest, the crime is a Class IIIA felony.
If the court finds you guilty of resisting arrest, the judge will decide your punishment based on the specifics of your case. At the moment of sentencing, the court has the following options:
The court will impose particular probationary conditions related to the crime you’re guilty of while on probation. These probationary conditions will include:
Only a few of the probationary conditions that a judge can impose are listed above. The court has the authority to sentence you to the longest possible period if any of these conditions are broken.
The defense may be evident when examining the elements of the offense. Following are the main defenses used when accused of resisting arrest:
This defense is applicable if the accused feels the probation officer used unreasonable or excessive force. The arrestee may claim they were using self-defense. Peace officers may use as much power as needed to make an arrest, but anything more than that is illegal. For instance, the law enforcement officer shoots an unarmed suspect. Then, the suspect might resist.
The accused often believe that the arresting officer made untrue accusations. The accusation of resisting arrest may not likely hold up if:
The police could file the charges in revenge. Having witnesses to support such claims is helpful. Otherwise, it would be an alleged offender’s word against a law enforcement official.
This defense applies when a commotion between a peace officer and arrestee occurs. An individual can defend the endangered person during a ruckus. It does not fall under resistance despite using violence due to the intention of defense.
In rare circumstances, someone may fight back against an unauthorized arrest. But only with the reasonable or necessary force to successfully resist the arrest. Any detention that is not legal is an unlawful arrest, and it is illegal if it is without a warrant or probable cause.
Yes, there are some states where it is allowed. You can use reasonable force to prevent an unlawful arrest. This privilege is subject to two significant restrictions:
If a suspect makes a mistake, they could face criminal charges. Sometimes, along with serious injuries. The law may carry an obstructing charge against the offender. Additionally, using more force than necessary may result in accusations of assault, battery, or other crimes.
The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution serves as the legal foundation for resisting an illegal arrest. This amendment protects citizens from arbitrary government searches and seizures. You have the right to resist arrest if you think your arrest is unlawful. This right comes with a few restrictions, though.
Understanding that police must have a good reason to arrest you is crucial, and there must be “probable cause” to believe you have committed a crime. You may be permitted to resist arrest if an officer does not have sufficient grounds to arrest you and not be charged.
Second, you can only exert fair pressure if you try to resist arrest. Accordingly, you cannot attempt to elude arrest by using force or a weapon. If you do, you can face more severe charges, including assault or violence on a peace officer.
Knowing your rights before acting is crucial since resisting arrest is a serious crime. An expert attorney can assist you in understanding your options and rights. They can help you in mounting a compelling defense against the allegations.
Criminal histories are disastrous; they could cost you many great opportunities and restrict your freedom. It is crucial to remember that the court may throw out your criminal history. Yet, you still have to deal with any adverse side effects.
You are still left with consequences and can still experience collateral damage. The best action is to speak with a criminal defense attorney once you face a misdemeanor charge. Summit Defense Law Firm has helped many clients in the past. We bring you results. Building a solid attorney-client connection is something that our legal team supports.
Our experienced criminal defense lawyer will investigate your case and provide you with astute and experienced legal counsel. We will help you develop a unique and powerful defense plan for your misdemeanor charges.
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