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What Is Resisting Arrest?

Resisting arrest is when a person interferes with the process of a legal arrest.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Resisting arrest is a misdemeanor in which someone interferes with the process of a legal arrest. Different nations have different laws surrounding arrest, but as a general rule, it is agreed that the legal right to arrest someone would conflict with allowing the right to self defense during an arrest, and therefore people who attempt to resist arrest can be charged, with their actions not being treated as self defense. However, there are a few caveats to keep in mind with charges of resisting arrest which are important for people to be aware of.

There are several settings in which someone can be charged with resisting arrest. Someone who actively fights arrest can be charged with resisting arrest. Likewise, people who elude police officers or lie about their identity are considered to be interfering with an arrest. If a bystander steps in and interferes, this is not considered resisting arrest, but the bystander can be charged with interference, as most nations have laws which make it illegal to disrupt a law enforcement officer who is performing legal duties.

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However, for a charge of resisting arrest to hold up in court, it must be a legal arrest. If someone can demonstrate that the arrest was not, in fact, legal, the charges can be contested under the argument that the police officer was not protected and the citizen was within her or his rights to resist arrest. Likewise, if a police officer uses excessive force, the citizen is entitled to self defense, especially if that excessive force could be deemed a threat to the citizen's life or well being.

It is typically difficult to fight charges of resisting arrest, even if there are some grounds to contest the charges. Law enforcement officers are generally viewed as more trustworthy than the people they are arresting, and some courts may express a concern that a precedent could be set which might make it difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs in the future. Nations with a strong commitment to civil liberties tend to be more inclined to allow challenges to charges of resisting arrest.

In cases where the arrest was legal and the officer acted appropriately, the charge will stand. A charge of resisting arrest is added to other legal charges which the arrestee may be facing. For example, if a police officer arrests someone for driving drunk, the citizen would face drunk driving charges and charges for resisting arrest. The charges also go on someone's record, and can be used during bail and probation hearings to argue that the citizen's history suggests that he or she may present a risk.

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