Generally, officers may use reasonable force to arrest a suspect. However, even when excessive force is applied, some law enforcers will claim you were resisting arrest as a defense for their actions. While you have the right to defend yourself against harm, proving you had a reason to do so can be difficult.
What is resisting arrest?
Resisting arrest in Missouri is either a felony or a misdemeanor involving more than just pushing and pulling away from a police officer. It also covers the following:
- Fleeing from an officer
- Using physical force or violence to prevent arrest
- Interfering with the arrest or detention of someone else
The penalties for such an offense will depend on the crime the police officer stopped you for and the actions you took. You may face fines, jail time, and other charges relating to your arrest. Unfortunately, even if the arrest was unlawful, the charges may still apply.
How can self-defense be justified?
Many who argue self-defense in court are still convicted of resisting arrest. If the police officer used excessive force without providing a reason for the detention, then you may be able to claim self-defense. However, to do so, you need to have stopped resisting the officer once they have stopped using excessive force.
In a rare case where the suspect did not resist arrest, but the police officer used disproportionate force, self-defense may be appropriate.
Individuals in Missouri are legally allowed to defend themselves rather than retreat under the “stand your grand” law. However, the line between exercising your right to self-defense and fighting arrest is extremely blurry. Most of the time, it is not acceptable in court.
To prevent conflict with law enforcement, it’s best to comply with their requests and directions during an arrest. If they accuse you of a crime, you may invoke your right to remain silent and your right to speak to an attorney.