Discovering that you’re being arrested can be an alarming situation. If you’ve never been arrested before, you may not know what to expect. If this is not your first arrest, you may be on edge about having further charges on your record or the penalties of a conviction. Either way, you may be tempted to oppose, obstruct, or resist the arrest.
Resisting arrest is considered a crime in Arizona and occurs when a person purposefully evades, attempts to prevent, or successfully prevents a law enforcement officer from making an arrest.
If you are facing a charge of resisting arrest in Arizona, it’s important to speak with a reputable criminal defense attorney immediately. A skilled attorney will help you better understand your rights and develop an effective defense strategy designed to combat this criminal charge.
What Is Resisting Arrest in Arizona?
When an on-duty police officer directs you to stop while on foot or pull over if you’re in a vehicle, you should immediately comply. If you fail to comply with the officer’s demand, you could be charged with resisting arrest.
According to A.R.S. 13-2508, a person may be charged with resisting arrest if they intentionally prevent or attempt to prevent a person reasonably known to be a police officer from performing an arrest by:
- Using or threatening to use physical force against the police officer
- Using other means to create a significant risk of causing physical injury to the police officer or another person
- Engaging in passive resistance (i.e., a non-violent physical act or failure to act intended to hinder, impede, or delay an arrest)
Common examples of resisting arrest include stepping away, pulling away, stiffening arms, or flailing during an arrest. Other examples include refusing to exit a vehicle, taking a fighting stance, going limp, or threatening violence.
Even if the police officer had no justifiable reason to arrest you, you are not legally permitted to resist arrest. Instead, it’s best to always cooperate with the police, and then file a lawsuit later for false arrest if applicable.
Is Resisting Arrest a Misdemeanor or Felony?
In Arizona, a charge of resisting arrest can either be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the unique circumstances of the situation. A crime of passive resistance is classified as a class 1 misdemeanor, the most serious form of a misdemeanor. A charge of passive resistance may carry a penalty of up to six months in jail, three years of probation, and/or a maximum fine of $2,500.
Unless charged as a passive arrest, resisting arrest is generally a class 6 felony. The potential penalties of a felony resisting arrest include prison time of up to two years with no prior felonies or 2 to 7.5 years with prior felonies. In some cases, probation may be possible. A person may also receive a maximum fine of up to $274,500 if convicted.
What are Some Defenses to a Resisting Arrest Charge?
It is important to remember that just because you are charged with resisting arrest does not always mean that you will be convicted of the crime. One of the most common defenses to resisting arrest in Arizona is no criminal intent.
According to A.R.S. 13-2508(A), you must intentionally attempt to prevent an officer from carrying out your arrest. Arizona law states that the word “intentionally” means that it was the person’s objective to engage in illegal conduct. This means that a person cannot recklessly or accidentally resist an arrest. The act of resisting arrest must be done on purpose.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, an attorney may recommend a defense that states that you were acting in self-defense due to unreasonable or unnecessary police force. Arizona law states that no unreasonable or unnecessary force shall be used when making an arrest and that a person should not be subject to any greater restraint than necessary.
Another defense to a resisting arrest charge deals with the defendant fleeing, not resisting arrest. For example, a defendant may take off in a vehicle to “avoid arrest,” rather than resist arrest. In this case, the decision to pursue lies with the officer.
Contact an Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are being charged with resisting arrest, it’s critical to contact an Arizona criminal defense attorney right away for legal assistance. At JacksonWhite Attorneys at Law, we work tirelessly to find the best possible outcome for your case, regardless of the circumstances.
Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.