All About Resisting Arrest and Related Charges
Under Colorado Revised Statute 18-8-103 CRS, a person can be charged with Resisting Arrest if they knowingly prevent or attempt to prevent a peace officer from effecting an arrest of the actor or another person by:
- Using or threating the use of physical force or violence on the peace officer; or
- Creating a substantial risk of bodily injury to the peace officer.
Resisting Arrest is a class 2 misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 120 in county jail and fines up to $750. C.R.S. §
While striking an officer during an arrest is an obvious example. It can take far less to be charged with this crime. For example, your friend is being arrested outside a bar for disorderly conduct. You throw a beer bottle toward the officers on the scene, but it doesn’t hit anyone. This is potential harm and chargeable as resisting arrest. Even if you didn’t throw the bottle, but you encouraged other bystanders to throw any object at the officers, you could be charged with resisting arrest. The consequences of a conviction can be very serious.
A charge does not require a knowing or intentional act. It is enough to only threaten the use of force. People v. Whatley, 10 P.3d 688 (Colo. App. 2000).
It is not a defense to argue the arrest was improper.
Police officers are considered a “special class” and crimes against them can have additional penalties. In Colorado the court may decide a particular case of resisting arrest constitutes a Crime of Moral Turpitude. Beyond the fines and jail time this can lead to:
- Deportation for non-citizens,
- Loss of professional licenses and affiliations for educators, medical professionals, and others, or
- Job consequences for employees of local, state, or federal government agencies.
Other Charges That Can Be Brought
Any kind of resisting arrest, even if it seems benign or natural like pulling away from an officer, can lead to charges. And other more serious charges can be added on. In Colorado,
- Eluding a police officer in a vehicle is a separate charge and penalties range misdemeanor charges for refusing to pull over to felony charges for reckless driving if you evade in a police chase. See C.R.S. §§ 42-4-1413 and 18-9-116.5.
- Obstructing a peace officer without any force or threat. This could be anything the officer deems is getting in the way of completing an arrest; or an EMT or firefighter from doing their job. If an officer asks you to stop filming an arrest with your phone, and you don’t, you might be charged with obstruction. See C.R.S. § 18-8-104.
- Disarming a Police Officer is a more serious felony charge. Knowingly removing any weapon from a police officer carries a penalty of one to three years in prison and/or $1,000-$100,000 in fines. See C.R.S. § 18-8-116.
Can You Fight Resisting Arrest Charges?
Yes, the time to resist is in court, not during the arrest! Defenses against resisting arrest charges include:
The police officer used excessive force and threatened serious bodily injury or death against the defendant while that defendant was attempting to comply. You have a right to protect yourself or others against assault, even from a police officer.
The police officer was not acting under “the color of their badge,” meaning they are off duty, doing private security, or other function and the crime did not justify a citizen’s arrest.
Under our legal system, law enforcement officers hold the power to take individuals into custody if they believe are violating the law, if they have a reasonable belief that the person was involved in a crime. Even if they are proved wrong later, the act of taking someone in custody is still legitimate. Work with a skilled Criminal Defense attorney to defend your case in court.
The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. has the experience to build a strong case for you. Call them at (719) 475-2555 to get their team working for you.