An encounter with a police officer can be a nerve-wracking experience. Even if you have done nothing wrong, having a law enforcement officer stop you can be very stressful. Everybody reacts to stress differently, but how you react when a police officer stops you can result in a charge of Resisting Arrest. What type of behavior can be charged as this crime in Arizona? A.R.S. 13-2508 defines the offense as intentional behavior that impedes or prevents a law enforcement officer from making an arrest by using or threatening to use physical force or any other means that creates a risk of injury to the officer or another person. Examples of conduct that could be charged as Resisting Arrest includes:
- Assuming a “fighting stance” against the officer.
- Attempting to evade a traffic stop by speeding or violating other traffic laws. This can also be charged as “felony flight”.
- Attempting to escape by running into danger (such as running into traffic).
The statute is very broadly written and police officers will often use that fact to charge any arrestee who does not totally comply with their instructions. If you are charged with resisting arrest, you need an experienced criminal attorney who is familiar with the law to assist you in fighting the charge. There are several defenses available to those charged with resisting arrest with the most common being that the defendant was unaware of the police officer’s identity. This frequently happens during chaotic encounters when the officer does not audibly announce that he or she is law enforcement, but simply begins touching and manhandling people to control the situation. A defendant cannot be charged with this crime if they are not aware that a police officer is restraining them. Other defenses to this charge include general constitutional rights violations that can occur in all criminal cases. These types of violations include:
- “Miranda” violations – can be used to suppress statements that were not voluntarily given.
- Right to counsel violations – continuing to question suspects after they have requested an attorney.
- Forensic or chain of custody violations – evidence (such as video tape) was not properly handled, accounted for and tested in accordance with scientific standards.
The crime of Resisting Arrest is classified as a Class 6 felony under Arizona law and the penalties for conviction depend upon prior offenses:
- A first offense can result in probation or up to two years of incarceration.
- For persons with a prior felony conviction, penalties can range from nine months to two and three quarters years of prison time.
- Persons with two prior felony convictions can be sentenced to a prison term ranging from two and one quarter to five and three quarters years.
The penalties for this offense are serious and can have a very negative effect on your family, profession and relationships. Before you talk to the police, make sure that you have contacted an attorney and discussed your situation.
If you are charged with this crime in the Phoenix area (or anywhere in Arizona, for that matter) contact DM Cantor and speak to one of our experienced attorneys. To schedule a free case review, call us at (602) 737-2812. Our offices are available 24 hours a day by phone and online by using our confidential email form.