Resisting arrest is one of the most popular misdemeanor offenses charged in Illinois. Most people arrested for this criminal offense are initially approached by police officers for some other type of conduct. For instance, a law enforcement officer might be responding to a deadly weapon complaint. When the police officer attempts to make a lawful arrest and you refuse to put your hands behind your back or run away, you may be charged with resisting arrest.
In Illinois, resisting arrest is a defined crime encompassing a wide range of behavior and thus causing a large number of arrests each year. These misdemeanor charges hold the potential for probation, hefty fines, community service, jail time, and significant legal consequences for your future. Under certain scenarios, if bodily injury occurs to the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or correctional institution official while you're resisting or obstructing, you may be arrested and charged with a felony offense.
The criminal offense of resisting or obstructing a probation officer, peace officer, conservation officer, firefighter, or correctional officers is defined under 720 ILCS 5/31-1. Under the statute, a person commits the criminal charge of resisting arrest if they knowingly obstruct or resist the performance by a firefighter, probation officer, peace officer, or correctional official of any authorized act within their official capacity.
Further, the statute outlines correctional institution employees as any person employed to supervise and control inmates, whether they're awaiting a bail setting or in jail. Firefighters include any public officers employed by the Office of the State Fire Marshal to carry out arson investigations.
As you can see, the crime of resisting or obstructing a public officer is extremely broad. It encompasses any sort of action that interferes with the performance of official duty. This makes it a common crime, causing thousands of arrests every year. Resisting arrest most often involves an individual who refuses to peacefully consent to a lawful arrest. Everyone is required to obey an arresting officer and allow themselves to be arrested without a fight. Clearly, when you run away, strike a law enforcement officer, or elude police officers, you can be charged with resisting arrest charges. Other acts that give rise to this criminal charge are less obvious, however.
People are sometimes charged with this criminal offense after merely pulling their hands away slightly while they're being handcuffed, refusing to lay down on the ground, refusing to put one’s hands behind their back, and refusing to put hands on the squad car. Sometimes, the original criminal charge lobbed against the offender is later found to be lacking in probable cause. However, this won't serve as a valid defense against the criminal charge of resisting arrest.
Obstructing police officers, on the other hand, typically involves getting in the way of law enforcement officers or firefighters. For example, when law enforcement officers are investigating a crime scene and groups of people gather in a way that makes the investigation challenging, they might be charged with obstructing police officers if they don't clear the crime scene when instructed to do so. Further, providing police officers with false information or hiding key evidence is considered an obstruction, too.
Can You Beat a Resisting Arrest Charge?
If you're charged with resisting arrest sometimes you offer one or more of the following defenses. However, the requirements to prove any of these defenses vary from state to state.
Self-defense. Law enforcement officers have the legal authority to use the amount of force necessary to make an arrest. But if the arresting police officer acts violently and isn't justified in doing so, you may protect yourself and resist the illegal arrest. For instance, if a police officer unjustifiably attempts to shoot you, you may fight back. The arrestee can't act violently toward the arresting law enforcement officer unless the officer acts violently first. Further, the person under arrest must exercise self-restraint, using only the force reasonably necessary under the circumstances to resist the arrest. For example, if the person under arrest subdues a law enforcement officer who has acted unreasonably, the person under arrest cannot cause further bodily harm to the officer.
Illegal arrest. An illegal arrest is an arrest that isn't authorized under law, such as an arrest without probable cause or a warrant. In some states, an individual can resist an unlawful arrest but only with reasonable force. Reasonable force is typically considered to be only the amount of force needed to resist the arrest. In other states, court rulings and statutes have changed this rule to require individuals to submit to the unlawful arrest, as long as the police officer is performing the lawful duties of their job.
What are the Resisting Arrest Penalties in Illinois?
Resisting arrest in Illinois is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a jail term of up to one year, a monetary fine of $2,500, or both. A sentence of court supervision isn't available for this offense, making the minimum sentence a conviction that will create a permanent criminal record that can't be expunged.
720 ILCS 5/31-1 additionally states that any person convicted of the criminal offense is imprisoned for at least 48 hours and performs not less than 100 hours of community service.
If the defendant causes physical harm to a peace officer, firefighter, or correctional officer while attempting to resist or obstruct them, this might be considered a Class 4 felony offense. A Class 4 felony offense is punishable by a prison sentence of one to three years, plus a heavy fine of up to $25,000.
It’s essential to have an experienced and skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side when you're facing a resisting arrest charge. You need to make sure that your resisting arrest charge wasn't made because a police officer needed to justify their use of excessive force or deadly weapon against you. These instances often turn into your word against the word of the law enforcement officer. SO, it's crucial to have an experienced resisting arrest lawyer to undermine the credibility of the police officer and make sure you have the best defense possible.