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I Fought the Law and the Law Won – Resisting Arrest in Pennsylvania

Sometimes people refuse to be taken into custody without a fight. Often the feeling that your arrest is unjust may be subjectively justified. Maybe you already cleared up that warrant, or you know your brother got that ticket but used your name, or you feel you need to come to the aid of your buddy who is screaming for help while the police arrest him.

Your subjective feeling is meaningless under the laws of Pennsylvania. No matter how bogus the arrest seems, the minute you physically resist that arrest, or physically interfere in your friend’s arrest, you’ve earned yourself a misdemeanor, with possible jail time, fines — and a criminal record.

What is resisting arrest?

Pennsylvania law defines the crime of resisting arrest as:

  • Intentionally trying to prevent a public servant from making a lawful arrest or discharging any other duty while
  • Creating a risk of bodily injury to a public servant or
  • Acting in a manner that requires substantial force to overcome the resistance

Clearly, flailing, swinging, punching, or kicking at the arresting officer would constitute resisting arrest. More questionable are charges for “resisting” where all you did was walk away, ignore an order to stop, refuse to offer your hands to be handcuffed, or try to wriggle out of an officer’s grip.

You could elevate your misdemeanor resisting arrest into a felony of aggravated assault on a police officer if your resistance escalates to actually assaulting the arresting officer or his companion officers. The felony statute prohibits attempting to cause or intentionally or knowingly causing bodily injury to any police officer in the performance of his/her duty.

A resisting arrest charge can result from your desire to avoid jail, or it can also result from a police officer’s desire to make sure you go to jail for something more serious than a ticket if he or she feels you were uncooperative. If you or someone you care about is facing resisting arrest charges in Pennsylvania, you can benefit from the skilled investigations and defenses offered by an experienced Reading criminal defense attorney.

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