Is Self-Defense Considered Resisting Arrest?

Kimberly2 1 Author:

Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney

Can I Use Self-Defense Against a Police Officer?

Everyone has a right to defend themselves against an assault. But what happens if the person assaulting you is a police officer? In such a situation, you may find yourself asking if you still have the right to self-defense.

If, during an arrest, you believe an officer is using unreasonable or excessive force on you. Then you may be able to claim self-defense. However, you should be able to prove that the police used excessive force, making you act in self-defense. If the police officer acted unlawfully, you might not sustain a charge for resisting arrest.

However, in a case where the police can prove that you used force disguised as self-defense to resist arrest. In such instances, the officer can prove that they were acting legally and within the limits of their power. Regardless of your self-defense rights, resisting arrest is a crime. In such cases, you should consider seeking legal advice from a criminal defense lawyer. Your case’s success will depend on the arguments and evidence you present in court.

Resisting Arrest in Missouri

Resisting arrest is an act of hindering a law enforcement officer from arresting you. Self-defense is permissible when the officers use unreasonable force during a lawful or unlawful arrest.

If the arresting officer does not use force while making an arrest, it may be a good idea to be reasonable and avoid using physical retaliation.

One of the common mistakes DUI defendants make is resisting an arrest. In most DUI cases, police use excessive force when arresting defendants. Some suspects resist arrest in self-defense against police officers’ excessive force. But, it is rare to see those officers face criminal penalties after the assault. Most officers claim that the suspect was resisting arrest. In such situations, you may stop resisting the arrest and file a complaint for police misconduct later.

Missouri courts recognize the right to resist an unlawful arrest. The nature of provocation can have an officer facing certain consequences, such as:

  • Verbal or written warnings
  • Termination
  • Suspension
  • Criminal charges
  • Leave without pay
  • Transfer to another department

What Constitutes Resisting Arrest in Missouri?

The Statute of Missouri classifies a crime as resisting arrest when:

  • A person knows that a police officer is making an arrest.
  • A person resists an arrest by fleeing.

The statute denies a conviction for lack of evidence for resisting arrest if:

  • There is no evidence of the officer making an arrest.
  • You did not know the officer was making an arrest.

What Are the Penalties for Resisting Arrest?

In Missouri, a resisting arrest charge is a Class A misdemeanor. But, if resisting arrest involves severe injury or death risk, the charge is elevated to a Class E felony.

The penalties for resisting arrest may include the following:

  • Fines and up to one year in prison for misdemeanor resisting arrest convictions.
  • Felony penalties include possible imprisonment of up to 4 years and fines.

How Can an Attorney Help You With Resisting Arrest Charges?

Depending on the specifics of a resisting arrest case, the lawyer can raise the following defenses:

  • The arresting officer was using excessive force, hence justifying the use of self-defense.
  • The arrest was a result of unlawful police practices.
  • Entrapment or coercion by an officer.
  • It was a case of mistaken identity. Thus, making you resist an unlawful arrest.

How Can the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center Help?

If you are a victim of police misconduct, you have rights. But, it can be hard to face law enforcement officers in court during resisting arrest arguments. Thus, consider consulting an attorney from the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center. Our defense team has experience in various practice areas.

You can also consult our lawyers if you have been accused of a sex crime or you’re facing other criminal charges in Missouri. They will assist you in understanding your legal rights and the defense options available in your case. Contact us now for legal assistance.

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