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When might prosecutors charge someone with resisting arrest?

On Behalf of | Jul 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense

It is a natural response for people to push back against those trying to restrict their freedoms or compel some sort of action. Even those who want to follow the law may instinctively resist or fight back when police officers issue certain instructions. Therefore, those dealing with law enforcement professionals need to be very aware of what rights they have and what actions might worsen their situation.

Sometimes, when the police don’t have any true justification for detaining someone, the situation might spiral out of control and eventually lead to allegations that the individual unlawfully resisted arrest. That resistance can justify prosecution with no other evidence of criminal activity. When can Maryland state prosecutors charge someone with resisting arrest?

Someone must knowingly try to avoid a lawful arrest

For the state to successfully prosecute a resisting arrest case, the circumstances must meet certain criteria. Generally speaking, resisting arrest only occurs when a police officer or other law enforcement officer faces aggressive pushback from the person they seek to lawfully take into state custody. The individual arrested must have acknowledged that the person attempting to arrest them was a police officer. In scenarios involving plainclothes or undercover officers, individuals may resist because they are not aware that the other party is a police officer. They may sincerely fear for their safety instead of having some kind of criminal intent.

The arrest itself also needs to be lawful. In other words, the police officer has to have probable cause to believe that some kind of criminal activity occurred. If they do not have an articulable suspicion of a specific criminal infraction, their decision to arrest that individual may have been a violation of that person’s rights rather than a lawful arrest. Finally, the person arrested will need to engage in some kind of inappropriate use of force or an attempt to flee for the situation to constitute resisting arrest.

Allegations that someone unlawfully resisted arrest could lead to their prosecution or exacerbate other charges that the state intends to pursue. Discussing the situation that led to someone’s arrest and prosecution might help them establish whether they have grounds for a viable defense strategy or not.