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What Is Resisting Arrest?

Under Ohio statutes, you can be charged with resisting arrest if you recklessly or by use of force resist or interfere with a law enforcement officer’s lawful arrest — whether your own or that of another person.

The key phrase, here, is lawful arrest. The police can’t just arrest you because they don’t like your demeanor—flunking the “attitude test” is not reasonable cause for a lawful arrest, according to Ohio courts. An officer who wants to charge someone with resisting or interfering with a lawful arrest must be able to prove the following in court:

  • that the officer was effecting a lawful arrest of the defendant
  • that the defendant was fairly apprised of the fact he was being arrested
  • that the defendant, having been fairly apprised of his arrest, nevertheless resisted either by force or by recklessly hindering or interfering with the arrest.

The police must meet all of these requirements to level a valid charge of resisting arrest. For example, when a citizen fled after a police demand that he put his hands behind his back to be handcuffed this was not considered resisting arrest, because the original stop did not constitute a lawful arrest when the police failed to tell the man he was being arrested. The court ruled that running alone does not constitute resisting arrest in the absence of an actual arrest. Another case held that a suspect’s mere statement: “I’m not going anywhere” or “I won’t go with you” while trying to walk away did not amount to forcible resistance or interference with arrest, but the court also noted that police are not required to utter the magic words “you are under arrest” to qualify a stop as a lawful arrest.

Resisting Someone Else’s Arrest Might Put You in Jail

Sometimes the urge to be a Good Samaritan and come to the aid of your friend who is being arrested can land you in jail as well. Even with the best of intentions, a person who interferes in the lawful arrest of another has no right to interfere with the arrest any more than the person being arrested.

While resisting arrest is usually charged as a misdemeanor, in Ohio you can be charged with felony resisting arrest if you brandish a firearm or cause injury to the arresting officer.

Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, a criminal record carries long-term serious consequences and you want guidance from a highly rated legal firm who can advise you about your defenses and options. If you or someone you know is facing resisting arrest charges, get help from Yavitch & Palmer Co., LPA, a criminal defense firm with a sterling reputation for defending the rights of Ohio citizens.

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