Being charged with resisting arrest in Arizona can land you in jail if you’re convicted; it can also have a major impact on your future. In most cases, resisting arrest charges arise when police officers try to make an arrest based on an unrelated reason, and the person they are trying to arrest threatens the officer or otherwise doesn’t cooperate. However, there are defenses to resisting arrest that, when successful, can mean your case ends without a conviction. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, our dedicated Phoenix criminal defense attorney has spent the last 25 years defending clients charged with resisting arrest and other serious crimes. We understand what it takes to secure the result you’re looking for.Understanding Resisting Arrest Under Arizona Law
Arizona's law on resisting arrest is contained in Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-2508. This law clarifies that if a person attempts to stop an individual they know or should know is a peace officer acting within their job duties from making an arrest; they're guilty of resisting arrest.
There are a few different ways someone can resist an arrest:
- Using or threatening to use physical force against the police officer;
- Engaging in conduct that creates a substantial risk of physical injury to the peace officer or another person; or
- Exhibiting passive resistance, which involves non-aggressive acts or inaction aiming to prevent or delay the officer in carrying out the arrest.
The severity of penalties in Arizona for resisting arrest depends on the specifics of each case. However, a conviction for resisting arrest is either a class 6 felony or a class 1 misdemeanor.
If the resistance involved physical force or posed a significant danger to the officer, it's deemed a class 6 felony. For first-time offenders, this can result in up to a year of jail time.
If the resistance was passive, a resisting arrest conviction would be a class 1 misdemeanor, carrying up to six months in jail.Related Offenses
Resisting arrest is somewhat unique because, technically, the crime can occur any time an officer tries to make an arrest. However, some underlying offenses are more likely to result in the subject of the officer’s attention trying to resist. For example, officers are more likely to encounter resistance when trying to arrest someone for a drug crime, domestic violence offense, DUI charge or gun crime.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the arrest, prosecutors may bring additional related charges, such as:
- Aggravated Assault Against a Police Officer
- Tampering with Physical Evidence
- Disorderly Conduct
- Unlawful Flight from Pursuing Law Enforcement Vehicle
In Arizona, even if the arrest was baseless, resisting isn't typically a valid defense. However, if officers used or attempted to use excessive or unreasonable force, your criminal defense attorney may be able to argue that your act of resistance was in self-defense.Common Defenses to Resisting Arrest
Aside from situations where the officer engaged in excessive or unreasonable force, there are several other potential defenses to resisting arrest, including the following:
- You did not intend to prevent or delay the officer from making an arrest;
- You didn’t know the officer was effectuating an arrest;
- A lack of physical evidence that you resisted; and
- Conflicting testimony from the officer and other witnesses.
If you were recently arrested and charged with resisting arrest or any other violent crime, the Law Office of James E. Novak is here to help. Attorney Novak is a veteran Phoenix criminal defense lawyer with more than 25 years of hands-on experience standing up for the rights of his clients. He understands the detrimental impact that a conviction would have on your future and will do everything possible 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.