What are Defenses for Resisting Arrest?


For the average person, being arrested can be a traumatic experience. Sometimes, a person might resist an arrest if they feel it is unwarranted. However, resisting arrest can result in a serious criminal charge. Fortunately, there are a few defenses you and your lawyer can use if you are charged with resisting arrest. A few possible defenses include:

  • The officer used excessive force while making the arrest or otherwise acted unlawfully.
  • You were unaware that the arresting person was a police officer.
  • You were in danger and acted in self-defense.

It is important to understand that if the arrest was illegal, it does not necessarily void the charge of resisting arrest.

What are the Penalties of a Resisting Arrest Charge?

Resisting arrest, or eluding an officer, is a criminal offense where a person prevents or denies a law enforcement officer from making an arrest. There are different penalties that accompany a resisting arrest charge:

  • Disorderly persons offense: This is a misdemeanor and is issued when the defendant did not flee or attempt to flee, but resisted, nonetheless. This charge may include a jail sentence of six months.
  • Fourth-degree offense: Resisting arrest becomes a fourth-degree felony if the person purposefully prevented an officer from making an arrest by fleeing. It is punishable by up to 18 months in jail.
  • Third-degree offense: The charge becomes a third-degree offense if physical force is used against the officer or someone else. This can be punishable by up to five years in jail.
  • Second-degree offense: If you are eluding arrest and create a dangerous situation that could result in injury or death, it is a second-degree offense. This is punishable by up to 10 years of incarceration.

What Must be Proven?

The burden of proof is on the prosecution. They must establish the following:

  • The police officer was clear in their intention of making an arrest and acted lawfully.
  • The defendant resisted arrest or attempted to prevent the officer from making an arrest.
  • If the resisting arrest charge becomes a fourth-degree or above, then evasion or flight must be established.
  • For a third-degree offense, proof of physical resistance must be established.

A lawyer who is knowledgeable in criminal law can help you fight a resisting arrest charge.

South Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyers at Agre & St. John Defend the Rights of Those Facing a Resisting Arrest Charge

A resisting arrest charge can lead to serious penalties. If you need a strong defense, contact one of our South Jersey criminal defense lawyers atAgre & St. John. Call us today at 856-454-8674 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and Salem County.

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