Resisting Police: How it Happens and What to Do
Movies like The Fugitive, Con Air, and U.S. Marshalls lend an air of glamour to the idea of being an innocent fugitive from justice. But, like most things glamorized in the movies, the reality is generally harsher, and fleeing the police fleeing the police rarely leads to a happy ending.
Resisting Law Enforcement in Illinois is a Serious Matter
Illinois law makes it a Class A misdemeanor to knowingly resist or obstruct a peace officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee who is acting within their official capacity. The maximum punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is up to a year in jail and a fine up to $2,500. In addition to any other sentence, there is a minimum statutory punishment of 48 hours in jail or 100 hours of community service. If the violation results in injury to the officer, the violation becomes a Class 4 felony. Court supervision is not an option for this crime, so a conviction results in a permanent blot on your record.
The Definition of Resisting Arrest
Illinois law does not provide a clear and simple definition of resisting or obstructing a police officer. Some examples of behavior that might lead to a charge of resisting arrest include:
- A police officer tells someone they are under arrest and to put their hands behind their back to be handcuffed, but the person refuses to comply, tries to pull away, hits or wrestles with the officer, or runs away.
- An officer asks someone to clear the area of a crime scene, and that person refuses to leave.
- A group of people get into a fight at a large gathering. Police arrive and try to break up the fight. As a police officer grabs one individual from behind, the individual struggles, and the police officer suffers a sprained wrist. Even if no one gets ticketed or arrested as a result of the brawl, the person who injured the police officer could still end up with a charge of resisting/obstructing.
- A large political protest becomes unruly. Police begin citing some of the protesters for offenses such as criminal trespass and obstructing traffic. One protester carrying a large sign on a hefty pole refuses to back off when ordered to do so and his sign makes solid contact with a police officer.
What to Do if You Find Yourself Charged with Resisting Arrest
First, keep a tight rein on your mouth. To the police, say only, “I wish to remain silent. I wish to speak to an attorney.” Do not talk about your case to anyone other than your attorney.
Second, try to remember and write down everything you can about the incident, including anyone who might be able to serve as a witness. Remember, the State must still prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Your attorney can conduct a full investigation, including review of any video recordings that may have been made by police dash cameras or body cameras, citizen smartphones, or business security cameras. Your attorney may be able to show that your behavior fell short of “resisting or obstructing” or that the identity of the police officer was not clear. Whatever the evidence, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate a better deal than you could on your own.
Trust an Experienced Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney
When the police show up, the human “fight or flight” instinct often kicks in. It is a common mistake, but nonetheless serious. If you are charged with resisting arrest, contact a Will County criminal defense lawyer immediately. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation; phone calls are answered 24 hours a day.