Resisting arrest occurs when a person intentionally prevents or obstructs a peace officer from arresting, searching, or transporting them by using force against the peace officer or another. Resisting arrest is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas, punishable by up to a year in the county jail and a maximum $4,000 fine. The use of force distinguishes Resisting Arrest from the offense of Evading Arrest.
Merely refusing to cooperate with an arrest does not rise to the level of resisting arrest. Similarly, in order to prove that a person is guilty of resisting arrest, the prosecution must be able to show that the accused was about to be arrested, searched, or transported. In other words, using force to resist what would be considered a detention does not rise to the level of a resisting arrest charge.
Some courts have drawn a distinction between the use of force directed against an officer from the use of force directed away from an officer. Here’s some examples of actions that courts found were sufficient (or insufficient) to support a conviction for resisting arrest.
Some cases explicitly hold that only a force directed toward an officer can support a conviction. See Leos, 880 S.W.2d 180. But most cases involve actions that are clearly more than a simple pulling away from the officer’s restraint.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Dobbs v. State, concluded that “the statutory language plainly requires a use of force directed “against” the officer himself, not against his broader goal of effectuating an arrest. More information regarding resisting arrest can be found in Penal Code Section 38.03.
You can be charged with resisting arrest even if the arrest itself was unlawful. (Conversely, you cannot be charged with Evading Arrest if the arrest itself was unlawful.) That being said, there are situations where the use of force to resist an arrest may be justified.
Texas Penal Code 9.31(c) provides two instances in which the use of force to resist an arrest or search is justified:
Most offenses have a mental state requirement, but very few only allow for an allegation of “intentionally.” Resisting arrest is one of those offenses. In other words, the State must be able to prove that the accused acted “intentionally,” meaning the conscious objective or desire was to use force to prevent or obstruct arrest, search, or transport.
If a deadly weapon is used to resist arrest, the offense becomes a third degree felony and the punishment ranges from two years to ten years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
If you or a loved one is facing a charge of resisting arrest, it’s important to contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. Our attorneys aggressively defend charges for resisting arrest in Fort Worth. To learn more and to discuss the specifics of your case, call us today for a free consultation.