If the police have reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime like drunk driving, they may take you into custody. If, during the arrest, you attempt to resist, you might be charged with resisting a lawful arrest. This is a second degree misdemeanor that can result in jail time as well as fines, on top of any punishment you may face for your allege underlying offense, if convicted.
A resting arrest charge can be quite complex, especially when things boil down to a “he said-she said” situation. As such, knowing your rights and entitlements when interacting with public officers is crucial.
Understanding resisting arrest
Per Pennsylvania’s criminal statute, you cannot willfully resist a lawful arrest or interfere with another person’s arrest and detention. As far as the statute is concerned, “resisting” can range from a simple act of standing in front of an officer who is trying to execute an arrest to using violence to prevent the police from arresting a suspect. Resisting arrest, however, does not include the following:
- Asking the police why they’re arresting you
- Yelling, swearing or cursing at an officer
- Refusing to answer an officer’s questions
Do keep in mind, however, that these actions could aggravate an already volatile situation.
But I’m not doing anything wrong. Can I resist arrest in this case?
Even if you are not doing anything wrong, resting a lawful arrest is technically a crime. Also, you need to appreciate that police carry weapons, and they can use them when they feel their safety is threatened. Thus, even if you believe you are not committing a crime, do not resist an arrest. Your safety is crucial, and you can always fight a bad charge as soon as you are safely out of custody. Better still, you can get your arrest expunged if you are not charged with any crime.
Protecting your rights
Resisting an arrest can quickly worsen an already tense situation. Find out how you can protect your rights and interests if you are charged with resisting arrest. Seeking legal guidance as soon as you possibly can is wise.