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What Is Resisting Arrest?

Posted on February 23, 2022 in assault & violent crimes

In Arizona, you could be charged with the crime of resisting arrest on top of the crime(s) for which you were arrested to begin with. If the resisting arrest charge sticks, you could face serious additional penalties – including a felony conviction. A criminal defense attorney in Phoenix can help you combat the criminal charge of resisting arrest as part of your defense strategy.

What Constitutes “Resisting Arrest?”

According to Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-2508, a person commits the crime of resisting arrest by intentionally preventing or attempting to prevent a law enforcement officer from effecting an arrest by using or threatening to use physical force, creating a substantial risk of bodily injury to the police officer, or engaging in passive resistance. Passive resistance is a nonviolent physical act or omission with the goal of hindering, delaying or stopping an arrest. The individual must have reasonably known the person was a peace officer acting within his or her official authority to be guilty of resisting arrest.

Examples of resisting arrest include running away from a police officer, pulling out of the officer’s grip, flailing the arms or legs, physically struggling, hiding from the police, refusing to exit a vehicle, going limp, or threatening violence. Note that even if a law enforcement officer had no justifiable reason to arrest you, you cannot resist arrest. You should always cooperate with an arrest in Arizona first, then take steps to file a lawsuit for false arrest later, rather than attempting to resist arrest. 

What Are the Penalties for Resisting Arrest in Arizona?

Resisting arrest is a class 6 felony in Arizona if it involves the use or threat of physical force against a police officer or another person, or if it creates a substantial risk of physical injury. It is a class 1 misdemeanor when it involves passive resistance. The penalties for a felony resisting arrest crime include:

  • Maximum fine (plus surcharges) of $274,500.
  • Potential prison time of up to 2 years with no prior felonies or 2 to 5.75 years with prior felonies.
  • Option for probation, in some cases.

Being convicted of a felony in Arizona also comes with effects on your personal life, such as the ability to vote, bear arms, find a job and qualify for housing. The penalties for a misdemeanor resisting arrest crime are up to 180 days in jail, 3 years of probation and/or a fine of up to $4,575. A defendant may also be required to complete community service, counseling or pay restitution to a victim. A judge has discretion over the sentence of a resisting arrest crime.

How Is Resisting Arrest Proven?

To receive a conviction – a guilty verdict – for resisting arrest in Arizona, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant committed the necessary elements of this crime using proof beyond a reasonable doubt. These elements are:

  • Intent to prevent or delay a law enforcement officer from effecting a lawful arrest.
  • Refusing to stop at a signal or command from a law enforcement officer.
  • Using physical force against a law enforcement officer.
  • Creating a substantial risk of bodily injury to a law enforcement officer.

The evidence that a prosecutor may be able to use against a defendant includes the police report, police officer bodycam footage, signed eyewitness statements and statements from the defendant (often collected during police interviews after the arrest).  

Contact a Defense Lawyer in Arizona for a Resisting Arrest Charge

If you are being charged with resisting arrest, it is important to contact a criminal defense attorney right away for legal assistance. Arizona’s definition of resisting arrest is broad, with ambiguous language that leaves room for interpretation. This can work to a defendant’s advantage during a criminal case. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to argue that your actions did not meet the definition of this crime under Arizona’s resisting arrest statute. A lawyer can help you avoid the most serious potential consequences of this criminal charge.