Do You Have the Right to Resist an Unlawful Arrest?

To arrest you, a police officer must have a warrant for your arrest or probable cause to believe you committed an illegal act. In some cases, you may not have committed a crime, or a police officer has no probable cause. Is it legal to resist an unlawful arrest?

Resisting an unlawful arrest is a risky action. It may still be a crime to resist a police officer, even if the arrest is illegal. Being the victim of an unlawful arrest is a complex situation, which is why you should consult a criminal defense attorney if this happens to you. Keep reading to learn more about resisting arrest and how the use of excessive force plays into it.

What Is Resisting Arrest?

In general, resisting arrest involves situations where a person obstructs, resists, or delays a law enforcement officer performing their duty. Florida laws distinguish between resisting arrest with violence and resisting arrest without violence.

  • Resisting arrest with violence occurs when an individual knowingly and willfully obstructs, opposes, or resists an officer by threatening the officer with violence or acting violently toward them. In Florida, this is considered a felony of the third degree. The individual can be sentenced to up to five years in prison or fined up to $5,000.
  • Resisting arrest without violence is also considered a crime in Florida. However, the possible penalties aren’t as severe. Resisting, opposing, or obstructing without violence is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor, and individuals may be sentenced to prison for less than one year or fined up to $1,000.

These laws mean that even if you are not charged or convicted of the crime an officer arrested you for, you could still face charges for resisting arrest.

Arrests Involving Excessive Force

There are specific actions that a person who’s being arrested can take if the officer is using excessive force. The arresting officer could be committing assault or battery if they use force that creates a risk of severe bodily harm. As a result, the person being arrested may have a right to self-defense, meaning you can use equal force against the officer.

When determining if an officer used excessive force, a court may use the “reasonable person” method. In this practice, a court will consider whether a reasonable person in the defendant’s situation would have believed that the officer’s force would have resulted in injury. If the standard was reasonable, the court would have to consider whether the defendant’s force was equal to that of the officer. Proving this is often difficult, but an attorney would assist you by completing an investigation into the officer.

Is It Legal to Resist an Unlawful Arrest?

Although you could be charged with resisting arrest, the fact that the arrest was unlawful could be a legal defense to resisting arrest charges. Making unlawful arrests is not considered a police officer’s job duty, meaning you may not be convicted of resisting arrest if the arrest itself was unlawful. However, there are a few behaviors that will make an arrest safer and smoother.

  • Be polite
  • Cooperate with officers
  • Inform officers you will not answer questions without an attorney present

Having a valid legal defense to resisting arrest is no guarantee that you will not face charges. Proving an arrest was unlawful is difficult. The smartest course of action is to hire a seasoned criminal defense attorney.

Trusted Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you’re a victim of an unlawful arrest, you need to seek legal consultation as soon as possible. In Central Florida, The Umansky Law Firm is a trusted source of legal representation. With more than 100 years of combined experience, our expert attorneys will fight for the justice you deserve.

Call us at (407) 228-3838 or complete our online contact form to schedule your free consultation. Speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney today!