In any encounter with the police, it is only natural to want to ask questions
and find out more about the situation. No one wants to be pushed around
physically or restrained with no idea about whats going on. However, the
police are trained to take control of any situation quickly and with authority.
The unfortunate juxtaposition between police authority and your own natural
resistance to being physically accosted may potentially escalate into
a situation where you find yourself facing additional charges for
The offense of
Resisting Arrest or Other Law Enforcement,18 Pa.C.S.A. § 5104, is the code section under which you may be charged. Just because you
are charged with resisting arrest doesn’t mean the charges are well
founded. A charge of resisting arrest requires that there be a substantial
risk of bodily injury to the officer, or that substantial force is required
to overcome the resistance. Keepin in mind that you may still be charged
even if you don’t strike or grapple with the officer. (Indeed, you
may even find yourself facing additional
aggravated assault charges if you do hit the cop). Instead all is required that substantial
force is required to overcome your resistance.
But that doesn’t mean that you are guilty for all delays in the arrest
process for not complying with police officer’s demands.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that the charge of resisting arrest does not apply to a “minor
scuffle incident to arrest” where a defendant is attempting to shake
his way free of an officer’s grasp. Also, merely fleeing the scene
on its own is not enough to establish a conviction.
Charges of resisting arrest also require that the reason for the arrest
in the first place is lawful. This means that the officers making the
arrest must have had probable cause to arrest you for a crime. In these
cases, the analysis of whether you have been legally seized comes in. (see my analysis in my posts on Terry Stops and Police Encounters). In the absence of a lawful arrest, a conviction for resisting arrest
or other law enforcement activity can only be supported where the defendant
attempted to interfere with a public servant attempting to do their job.
This may include preventing police from executing a search warrant, or
something non law enforcement related such as blocking off your street
to keep firefighters from putting out a fire.
If you have had an encounter with police that turned sour, and you now
find yourself with charges of resisting arrest in addition to any other
criminal charges, you need an attorney to stand up for you! Don’t
be pushed around by law enforcement any more. Attorney Frank Walker can
counsel you on your rights and fight for you in court. Attorney Walker
has years of experience fighting for criminal defendants in Pittsburgh,
PA and Morgantown, WV. Call us now at (412) 212-3878 for the Pittsburgh
Office, and (304) 712-2089 for our office in Morgantown.