Resisting Arrest

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Resisting arrest is a serious crime in Arizona, and a conviction will not only put you at risk of going to jail but will have other long-term effects on your future. Resisting arrest charges often come up when police officers are attempting to effectuate what they believe to be a lawful arrest based on another alleged crime.

How Does Arizona Law Define Resisting Arrest?

In Arizona, resisting arrest is defined in Arizona Revised Statutes (“A.R.S.”) § 13-2508. According to this statute, someone commits the offense of resisting arrest by intentionally preventing or attempting to prevent a person he or she knows, or reasonably should know, to be a peace officer, acting under color of such peace officer’s official authority, from effecting an arrest.

The law further categorizes resisting arrest based on the method of resistance. It can be:

  • Using or threatening to use physical force against the peace officer;
  • Using any other means creating a substantial risk of causing physical injury to the peace officer or another; or
  • Engaging in passive resistance.

In this context, “passive resistance is defined as any “nonviolent physical act or failure to act that is intended to impede, hinder or delay” a police officer from making an arrest.

What is the Punishment for a Phoenix Resisting Arrest Conviction?

The penalties for a resisting arrest conviction in Arizona vary depending on the circumstances of the case. If physical force was used or threatened, or there was a substantial risk of physical injury to the police officer, it is categorized as a class 6 felony, which will carry a presumptive jail sentence of one year if you don’t have a prior felony conviction.

In other instances where passive force was used, resisting arrest is treated as a class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to six months in jail.

Other Offenses Related to Resisting Arrest

Due to the nature of this crime, resisting arrest charges, perhaps more so than many other criminal offenses, are filed along with other charges. Some of the other offenses that prosecutors may charge with resisting arrest include the following:

  • Aggravated Assault (against a law enforcement officer) – A.R.S. § 13-1204;
  • Disorderly Conduct – A.R.S. § 13-2904;
  • Unlawful Flight from Pursuing Law Enforcement Vehicle – A.R.S. § 28-622.01; and
  • Tampering with Physical Evidence – A.R.S. § 13-2809.

Of course, there are endless crimes that can be pursued with resisting arrest charges, depending on the reason for the arrest. However, some of the types of offenses that most frequently give rise to resisting arrest charges include the following:

Can You Resist an Illegal Arrest in Arizona?

Yes and no. Unlike other states, Arizona law does not consider it a defense to resisting arrest charges if the arrest was merely unlawful. For example, if police officers lacked probable cause to arrest you, and you resisted, you could still be convicted, even if the underlying charges were dropped. However, if police officers use unreasonable or excessive force to effect the arrest, you may be able to claim that your efforts in resisting the arrest were made in self-defense.

Are You Facing Resisting Arrest Charges in Maricopa County?

If you were recently arrested and charged with resisting arrest, it is important that you have an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney by your side. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, our resisting arrest lawyer has more than 25 years of experience defending the rights and freedoms of men and women charged with these serious crimes. We understand the best defenses to resisting arrest charges, when they apply, and how to use them to ensure your case ends in the best result possible. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Novak today, call 480-413-1499. You can also reach us through our secure online contact form.

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