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What is resisting arrest?

Resisting arrest sounds dramatic: Throwing punching, running away and physically trying to stop the police from taking you into custody.

But is it really that straightforward? Could something minor leave you facing charges for resisting arrest, even if you do not feel like that's what you were doing?

Possibly. Experts warn that police officers sometimes look at this charge as a catchall. If you do anything at all to slow the process down or make their jobs more difficult than they want them to be, they might tell you that you are resisting arrest.

For instance, some have claimed that even being reluctant to do what an officer says or responding slowly when given instructions can land you behind bars with resisting arrest charges. If the officer tells you to get in the patrol car and you do not do it right away, you may not actively be trying to stop the arrest, but the police may still look at it that way.

Other actions that may lead to charges include:

  • Lying about your name when asked
  • Lying about other personal information to slow down the process
  • Refusing to cooperate physically so that police need to drag or carry you
  • Struggling, no matter how slightly, as the officers try to put on handcuffs

If you're surprised by the arrest or you do not agree that you have done anything wrong in the first place, might you instinctively argue and try to convince the officers they have made a mistake? This process could just lead to resisting arrest charges, and you need to know all of your legal rights, especially if you feel like those charges are unfair.

Source: FindLaw, "Resisting Arrest," accessed April 12, 2018

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