Phone icon
resisting arrest arizona

Can You Resist an Unlawful Arrest in Arizona?

Being arrested is a stressful experience that can leave you feeling uncertain and vulnerable. Whether it's your first time being arrested or not, the situation can be alarming and may tempt you to resist the arrest. However, resisting arrest is considered a crime in Arizona and can result in serious legal consequences. If you're facing a charge of resisting arrest in Arizona, it's crucial to seek the guidance of a reputable criminal defense attorney right away. A skilled attorney like someone from our team at the Law Offices of Brandon White can help you understand your legal rights and develop a strong defense strategy to combat this criminal charge.

Definition of Resisting Arrest in Arizona

Arizona law, as defined by A.R.S. § 13-2508, outlines resisting arrest as intentionally preventing an arrest by using or threatening physical force, creating a substantial risk of physical injury, or passively resisting arrest. Passive resistance refers to a nonviolent physical act or failure to act intended to impede, hinder, or delay an arrest. Examples of passive resistance include refusing to put your hands behind your back or get out of a car. Although the statute is broad and unclear, it allows for interpretation by judges and juries.

Common examples of resisting arrest in Arizona include pulling away, stepping away, flailing or stiffening arms and legs, refusing to exit a vehicle, taking a fighting stance, and threatening violence. To prosecute a resisting arrest charge, the prosecutor must prove that the officer was arresting the defendant in an official capacity, the defendant had reason to know law enforcement was arresting them, and the defendant intentionally tried to prevent the arrest.

The broad language of ARS 13-2508 leaves room for interpretation by the court, making it critical for defendants to understand how the law is defined in Arizona. Resisting arrest charges can be contested with a skilled defense attorney, who may argue that the circumstances of the legal arrest were unclear, making the defendant's actions reasonable. A defense attorney may also argue that the defendant's actions were passive resistance and not active resistance toward the arresting officer. Overall, understanding the definition of resisting arrest in Arizona is crucial, as how a defendant approaches the court for a violation of this statute can determine the outcome of their case.

resisting arrest arizona punishment

What Is Considered an Unlawful Arrest in Arizona?

Under Arizona law, a person may only resist arrest if the arrest is unlawful. An arrest is unlawful if it doesn't meet the requirements set forth by Arizona law. Here are some of the elements that must be met for an arrest to be considered lawful:

  • The officer must have a warrant or probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that the person being arrested committed that crime.
  • The arrest must be made by a law enforcement officer who is in uniform or who has identified themselves as a law enforcement officer.
  • The arrest must take place in a public place or in a place where the person being arrested has no reasonable expectation of privacy.
  • The officer must use reasonable force in effecting the arrest.

If any of these elements are missing, then the arrest may be considered unlawful. However, it's important to note that resisting arrest, even if it's unlawful, can still result in criminal charges. It's up to the individual, along with the help of a criminal defense lawyer, to determine whether it is worth the risk to resist an unlawful arrest. If you believe you have been unlawfully arrested, we encourage you to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your rights and options.

Is Resisting Arrest a Felony in Arizona?

Resisting arrest in Arizona can be considered either a felony or a misdemeanor offense depending on the case and circumstances. The penalties for resisting arrest differ based on the severity of the charge. Here are the penalties for both misdemeanor and felony resisting arrest:

Misdemeanor Resisting Arrest Penalties. If charged as a class 1 misdemeanor, resisting arrest can result in up to 180 days in jail, $4,575 in fines and surcharges, and up to 3 years of probation. The judge can also order additional penalties such as counseling, classes, and community service. In addition, a defendant may be ordered to pay restitution if an officer suffered financial loss due to damaged property, injuries, or lost pay.

Felony Resisting Arrest Penalties. If charged as a class 6 felony, resisting arrest can result in potential prison time. The prison range varies depending on the defendant’s criminal history. If you don’t have a felony on your record, you face anywhere from probation to 2 years in prison. If you have a felony record, you face between 2 and 5.75 years in prison. The maximum fine for a felony charge, plus surcharges, is $274,500. A felony conviction also carries collateral consequences that may impact employment, finances, rights, and opportunities. If an officer suffered financial loss from damaged property, injuries, or lost pay, a defendant may be ordered to pay restitution.

arizona resisting arrest

Who Is Considered a Law Enforcement Officer?

In Arizona, the definition of a law enforcement officer for the purpose of resisting arrest charge includes police officers, marshals, sheriffs, peace officers, and other similar personnel. However, it goes beyond just those who work in law enforcement agencies. Those who coordinate with police officers, such as probation officers, prison guards, parole officers, correctional officers, or park rangers, are also considered law enforcement officers and may be involved in resisting arrest occurs. On the other hand, private security guards are not generally considered law enforcement officers since they aren't performing a public service, and are treated as private citizens.

What Elements Does the Arresting Law Enforcement Officer Need to Prove to Charge You with Resisting Arrest?

To charge someone with resisting arrest in Arizona, the arresting law enforcement officer must be able to prove the following elements:

  • The defendant must have intentionally resisted a lawful arrest or obstructed a law enforcement officer who was in the process of making an arrest. This means that the defendant intentionally acted in a way that hindered, impeded, or delayed the arrest. It is not necessary for the defendant to cause any harm.
  • The defendant knew or should have known that he or she was resisting a police officer.
  • The peace officer was acting lawfully and performing his or her official duties without using unreasonable police force. This means that the peace officer was properly engaged in his or her active official duties, which can include making a traffic stop or investigating a domestic dispute claim. Even if the peace officer arrests the wrong person, he or she can still be acting lawfully. However, if this happens, the charges are dropped and the defendant will be acquitted if the case goes to trial.
resisting arrest in arizona

What Can I Do If I’ve Been Charged with Resisting Arrest in Arizona?

If you've been charged with resisting arrest in Arizona, it's important to seek the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and build a strong defense strategy. The statute defining resisting arrest in Arizona uses vague language, particularly regarding passive resistance, so having a knowledgeable lawyer on your side can make a significant difference in your case. An experienced attorney can challenge the charges against you by questioning the prosecutor's case and interpreting the law in your favor. Although there are never any guarantees as to outcomes in a criminal case, The Law Offices of Brandon White Team has a proven track record of successfully defending clients against resisting arrest charges in Arizona and can provide you with the necessary legal guidance and support.

Minimize the Consequences of Resisting Arrest Charges with the Help of a Skilled Attorney

If you're facing charges for resisting arrest in Arizona, seeking legal assistance from a skilled criminal defense attorney can be crucial in minimizing the consequences. At The Law Offices of Brandon White, our team is dedicated to finding the best possible outcome for your case. We're prepared to work tirelessly, regardless of the circumstances, to protect your rights and interests. Contact us today to discuss your case and receive the legal support you need.

Table of Contents

Let Us Fight For You

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation


No items found.